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June 28, 2019

Instagram busted for peddling medical misinformation account to new users

A pseudoscientific 'healer' is being promoted to new users, according to report

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Users should be weary of health information relayed on social media platforms.

Business Insider uncovered Friday that Instagram, a Facebook-owned photo-sharing platform, has been promoting the account of  "Dr. Sebi," a pseudoscientific "healer" whose herbal remedies have made lofty promises to thousands of new Instagrammers.

The news outlet reports Dr. Sebi’s medically unverified claims regarding human biology — including that mucus, not bacteria or viruses, are to blame for disease — are being seen by these users with a “worrying veneer of legitimacy.”

RELATED READ: As medical misinformation infects the internet, doctors seek a cure

Reportedly, Sebi’s account has made its way to the lengthy list of high-profile accounts suggested to new users to follow during their account set-up process — a list that is selected by an Instagram algorithm, not paid promotions or advertisements, Business Insider reports. Sebi, who died in 2016, was not a licensed medical doctor according to reports. 

It's another indication that the spread of medical misinformation — an issue social media platforms have been slowing banding together to combat  continues.

During the winter months of 2019, Facebook and other platforms announced steps to prevent the spread of anti-vaccination rhetoric. Amazon, similarly, removed books for sale on the website relaying harmful autism “cures” involving bathing children in bleach.

View Business Insider's full report here

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