Is the Measles Vaccine Likely to Make your Child Autistic?

This kind of interrogation, linked to a false study, left a lasting mistrust of vaccines. Thursday, a European summit in Brussels looks at vaccination, including the damage of misinformation, while measles recurs in some European countries. Because health is fertile ground for any type of fake news, disparate panoply of false information, erroneous, truncated, outdated, unreliable …

“Health is a subject that everyone is concerned about and everyone can talk about,” says Stephanie Chevrel, journalist and president of the Observatory of Health Information with the Sciences Po Chair of Science. “The main ingredient buzz is when it touches people, fear, scandal, humor, surprise, complete Caroline Faillet, co-founder of Bolero, consulting firm in digital strategy. And unlike an attack, for example, for health topics, it is much more difficult to know whether the information is true or not. False information that creates confusion, wastes time and money for patients, and even encourages some to give up care. Hence a fundamental regulation. But how to sort between info and infox. 20 Minutes go through five solutions (and their limitations) in review.

Health authorities replicate on the networks

“You can not silence a fake news transmitter. On the other hand, one can limit its visibility, estimates Caroline Faillet, author of Decode info *. For a long time, laboratories, doctors, health authorities were not present on the digital. It’s as if we had left the prime time to people who come to defend absurd theses. A silence broken in recent years. Several health authorities have thus invested YouTube, and broadcast videos of popularization in an offbeat way to clear some theories. In particular Inserm, which launched in October 2018 Canal detox, small videos that thwart the false information, or the CNRS, with Zeste of science. Similarly, the Ministry of Health, in its offensive against antivax, had in particular bet in December 2017 on two influential videographers, Julien Ménielle of Dans ton corps, and Bruce Benamran, host of the chain E-think.

“The problem is that the institutions have very downward information on social networks, nuance Stéphanie Chevrel. Moreover, it’s simple: on Twitter, institutional accounts have many subscribers and few subscriptions. A bit like sending a fax without waiting for a return … They use modern tools keeping the spirit of the old world. “In health, we do not have an official fact-checking body,” adds Caroline Faillet. Who believes that we must pool forces so that doctors, laboratories, patients, health authorities speak with one voice when it is necessary to counter a significant misinformation. “The awareness is there, but it is now necessary to put in place the means to monitor and counter the fake news,” she suggests. Perhaps by lifting the ban for laboratories to communicate about their drug that would be misinformed. ”

A site who wants to make reference
Since this summer, the site, created by the Ministry of Health, has become widespread (directory Ile-de-France, it has become an information site on the whole health and for all France) and wishes to become a reflex for all citizens who would have a question. It is added to various existing ministry websites:, … Without prior registration, all citizens can find reliable and practical information, with two levels of response. You can find a card with original and popularized content, but also links to other institutional sites (health authorities, Institut Curie, patient associations). And a regional and utility filter, so that a citizen can find a pharmacy in Tulle … “In addition, we offer personal support filters, to improve health education,” says Giovanna Marsico, Public Service delegate Ministry Health Information. For example, if you say that you are a pregnant woman, the site offers you information sheets on drugs to take during pregnancy or listeriosis.

A special effort is made to ensure that information is understandable and accessible, especially to people with disabilities. “Paradoxically, health information is more focused on those who need it the least,” says the one who led the implementation of the site. We have worked to offer videos, foreign language content for migrant people, content using a specific methodology for those with a learning disability. ”

The site is presented as “under construction”. “It evolves every month according to the requests of our partners (users, researchers, institutions) and through the analysis of uses,” says Giovanna Marsico. Thus, the designers are working on a chatbot dedicated to drug research, a request identified by the returns. Gather all the useful information on one site, that will help the citizen to see more clearly. “It’s reassuring, but it’s cold information, regrets Stéphanie Chevrel. In case of fake news, there is no possibility to publish an alert. But we know that an infox goes around the world in less than 2 hours … “Another challenge: the visibility of a site drowned in the mass. “If we want the general public to know it, we must talk about it on social networks, note the address in the health notebooks, on prescriptions,” advises Stéphanie Chevrel.

The hunt for infox in the media

“No, chemotherapy does not kill 50% of patients with cancer”, “No, green tea does not protect against cancer” … The media have taken the measure of the issue: items like Decoders (The World), Fake off (20 Minutes), the True of the false (France Info) were born in the newsrooms. “It’s good, but why all these sections do not gather their conclusions so that the surfer can juxtapose the different analyzes? questions Stéphanie Chevrel. If all the decodings agree on a subject, it reinforces their credibility. The other problem is that a citizen who rejects the whole system will probably not “check” in a major media that, as he read, the wine is losing weight … On their side , social networks are also trying to clean: YouTube and Pinterest have engaged in an offensive against anti-vaccines … without much success, as shown by this survey Numerama.

A label to sort?

“I think we tend to multiply sites rather than highlight what is reliable,” says Laure Guéroult-Accolas, founder of the three networks on breast cancer, lung and gynecology. In fact, to give more visibility to those who disseminate verified information, a tool could be useful.