Bogus Health News can be All Over Pinterest

Pinterest can be where many people turn for ideas about how to be healthy. although the recipes, nutrition advice, in addition to also also some other colorful infographics in which the site can be so well-known for are rife with bad information about health in addition to also also science.

This particular kind of misinformation can be baseless in addition to also also ineffective at best, in addition to also also harmful at worst — some pins, for example, make unsubstantiated claims about preventing in addition to also also treating cancer — although Pinterest says in which in which can be only a minor problem for the site.

With little effort over the past month, BuzzFeed News found more than a dozen misleading health-related pins in which were being shared widely.

One pin, saved to about 13,000 boards, falsely claimed: “Even Doctors Can Not Explain This particular: Boiled Cinnamon in addition to also also Honey can be The Cure For Many Health Problems,” coming from cancer to arthritis to gallbladder infections. Another pin using a bogus claim — “Retired Pharmacy Chief Said: ‘the globe Needs To Know, Alkaline Water Kills Cancer’” — was saved to more than 16,500 boards.

One pin, saved to 16,000 boards, suggested in its title in which “vitamin B17” could be a “cancer treatment.” although in which’s a nickname for a chemical compound in which can be not an officially recognized vitamin in addition to also also does not cure cancer. In fact, large doses can generate dangerous or even fatal levels of cyanide.

The title of yet another pin claimed in which genetically modified foods are “Linked to Tumors, Allergies in addition to also also Early Death,” which can be not supported by scientific evidence. in which was saved to about 15,000 boards.

Some of the dozen or so false or misleading health pins in which BuzzFeed News found were removed after we contacted Pinterest in addition to also also the authors of the pins for comment. Pinterest said in which in which took action on the pins in which violated its terms of service.

Misinformation on Pinterest isn’t just limited to health advice: Earlier This particular month, the Washington Post also reported in which the site had been flooded with political content created by Russian operatives in an attempt to sway the 2016 election.

Adelin Cai, head of policy at Pinterest, told BuzzFeed News in which a “little volume” of medical misinformation exists on the platform, although she did not know what percentage of the overall content in which comprised.

“We have so much content on the platform. in which’s curated by millions of people across a variety of categories,” Cai said. “Sometimes those ideas might be controversial or cause some public concern, or they just might not be for everyone.”

She added, “At the end of the day, what we’re genuinely concerned with can be creating Pinterest a genuinely safe place so people can find in addition to also also discover the things they genuinely love.”

Pinterest largely relies on users to report problematic content, Cai said.

Pinners can report individual pins by clicking on them in addition to also also selecting coming from reasons like “I don’t want to see This particular,” “This particular can be spam,” in addition to also also “This particular goes against Pinterest’s guidelines.” coming from there, Cai’s team can decide whether to delete a pin or make in which “undiscoverable,” which means in which in which still exists on a person’s board although in which some other users cannot search for in which.

In its guidelines for community posters, Pinterest says in which removes content in which “promotes harmful behavior.”

One type of in which content can be “medical misinformation.” The company says, “We’ll take action on content spreading medical misinformation in which could lead to serious harm to Pinners — for example, claims of curing diseases currently considered by the medical community to be incurable.” Cai said in an interview in which This particular list includes cancer in addition to also also epilepsy. (She added in which advertisers are not allowed to promote medical misinformation.)

although Pinterest’s definition of medical misinformation overlooks some other forms of unsubstantiated health information.

One pin, for example, linked to a raw apple cider vinegar recipe, claiming in which could cure urinary tract infections.

within the text of the pin, the author claimed, “Find out how to get rid of bladder infections naturally! Yes, without a doctor in addition to also also without antibiotics! in which can be easy in addition to also also genuinely works!” Although home remedies can help ease the discomfort of UTIs, the most effective line of treatment can be antibiotics, in addition to also also letting UTIs go untreated can lead to more severe kidney infections.

Dina Marie Oswald, who runs myculturedpalate.com, defended in which recipe to BuzzFeed News, saying in which people should try natural remedies before resorting to traditional medicine. “There’s nothing on My Cultured Palate in which I have not personally used,” she said. “These are things in which genuinely work.”

A different pin claimed in which genetically modified foods “have not been proven safe,” even though studies have overall concluded in which they are as inherently safe as conventional foods. Both pins are still up.

“When content comes to us, we will consider in which in addition to also also see whether we consider in which appropriate for the platform or not,” Cai said, when presented with these types of examples. “We make tweaks internally in addition to also also publish things externally if we change our policies.”

Some of the people who’ve made these misleading health pins admit in which the claims they make aren’t always valid.

Josh Axe, who runs the natural health website draxe.com, can be a self-described “doctor of natural medicine, doctor of chiropractic in addition to also also clinical nutritionist using a passion to help people get healthy by using food as medicine.” Infographics in which the site posted on Pinterest, in addition to also also linked back to his website, suggested in which “vitamin B17” can be a potential “cancer treatment” in addition to also also in which genetically modified food can be linked to leukemia, liver toxicity, kidney failure, in addition to also also gut inflammation.

A draxe.com spokesperson said its team had removed the pins after BuzzFeed News inquired about them. “Some articles on our site are older in addition to also also don’t contain the rigorous, accurate research in which we’ve become known for,” spokesperson Alex Loria said by email. “The GMO in addition to also also the ‘Vitamin B17’ articles you point to are both faulty in some respects in addition to also also have been taken down while they are reworked.”

in addition to also also Anne-Marie Nichols, a lifestyle in addition to also also recipe blogger in Georgia, has pinned the well-liked infographic in which claims in which genetically modified food can be not safe — even though she says she no longer believes in which’s true.

Nichols told BuzzFeed News she posted the infographic, which was supplied to her by an outside company, on her Pinterest in addition to also also her blog, This particular Mama Cooks, three to four years ago.

She’s since deleted in which coming from her blog, although in which’s still on her Pinterest, where in which’s been shared on more than 26,000 some other boards. Nichols said in which she has pinned thousands of images through the years — sometimes the same image multiple times in an effort to get pinners’ eyeballs on in which in addition to also also drive traffic back to her blog, which can be a common practice on the platform, she said. With Pinterest’s user interface, in which’s hard even for her to find her own content.

“These boards are so gigantic, I couldn’t go find in which without scrolling in addition to also also scrolling in addition to also also scrolling,” she said.

Some users say in which even though Pinterest can be an increasingly difficult place to capture people’s attention, the website referral traffic can be still too significant to be ignored. Health pins can help drive in which traffic.

For example, a pin containing a juice recipe to cure a UTI “without antibiotics” has been saved to 37,000 boards. in which was created by Lee Traister, who says Pinterest can be her top source of traffic to her site ladyleeshome.com.

Traister told BuzzFeed News in which Pinterest generates about 50% of the 50,000 to 70,000 monthly page views she gets on her site dedicated to homestead living. “I also post regularly on Facebook,” she said. “although Pinterest can be by far the greatest for bloggers in This particular niche as far as traffic goes.”

Asked about the scientific basis for the claim in which her juice recipe can cure a UTI, Traister said in which a lot of commenters have said the recipe worked for them. although “every person can be going to have to decide for themselves what they want to try,” she said.


Stephanie Lee can be a senior technology reporter for BuzzFeed News in addition to also also can be based in San Francisco.

Contact Stephanie M. Lee at stephanie.lee@buzzfeed.com.

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