Grapefruit peel and lemon peel simmered slowly in water to extract the maximum quinine and vitamin C. It’s not a recipe for a trendy homemade energy drink, but a DIY prescription for hydroxychloroquine and touted online as a cure for COVID-19.
You can find the phony pharmaceutical on the world’s most popular website. No, not Google – the new Google, TikTok.
In growing numbers, people take questions about healthcare, politics, or finding the best restaurants not to Google, but to TikTok, the short-form video platform. This month, a NewsGuard investigation revealed that such TikTok searches consistently feed false and misleading claims to users, most of whom are teens and young adults.
“For example, when our analyst did a search for COVID vaccine, which is a kind of search that a young person might very well do to learn more about it, TikTok suggested that the search be for COVID vaccine injury or COVID vaccine truths or COVID vaccine exposed, COVID vaccine HIV, and COVID vaccine warning – in other words, highlighting the alarmist and often false claims about the COVID vaccine,” says Gordon Crovitz, NewsGuard co-founder.
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NewsGuard is a journalism and technology tool that rates the credibility of news and information websites and tracks online misinformation for search engines, social media apps, and advertisers.
Of the 8,000 news and information sites NewsGuard has rated, close to 40% receive a “red” rating, categorizing them as untrustworthy. The NewsGuard assessments, says Steven Brill, also a NewsGuard co-founder, are grounded in well-established principles of best journalistic practices.
“It’s a scrupulous, careful, multi-person look at how every one of these websites scores against nine specific criteria. Does it have a transparent policy to make a correction when they realize they’ve made a mistake? Do they mix news and opinion in a way that people can’t tell if it’s news and opinion? The basics that any journalist learns and adheres to,” explains Brill, who founded The American Lawyer in 1979 and started Court-TV in 1989.