From green juice that “cures cancer” to “proof” that vaccines cause autism, the internet is rife with bad health theories
| They turn to Facebook and YouTube to find a cure for cancer — and get sucked into a world of bogus medicine
By Abby Ohlheiser, June 25
The Washington Post – Mari pressed kale leaves through the juicer, preparing the smoothie that she believed had saved her life.
“I’m a cancer-killer, girl,” Mari told her niece, who stood next to her in the kitchen. The pair were filming a YouTube video.
Mari said she was in remission from a dangerous form of cancer, and the video was meant as a testimony to the power of the “lemon ginger blast”.
In went some cucumber, some apple, some bok choy, a whole habanero pepper.
While she pressed, she preached.
“I’m telling you, it’s anti-cancer,” Mari said. “It’ll kill your cancer cells.”
The video, first uploaded in 2016, remains on YouTube, but there’s an “important update” written by Liz, the niece, a year later.
Mari’s cancer had returned, the note said, and she had died.
I found Mari’s videos without looking for them when a search for a smoothie recipe opened up an algorithmic tunnel to videos that claimed to know the secret to curing cancer.
These tunnels, forged by Google searches and Facebook recommendations, connect relatively staid health and nutrition advice to fringe theories, false claims and miracle juices.
But the web of false, misleading and potentially dangerous cancer “cures” and conspiracy theories more often ensnares people reeling from bad news, groping for answers.
“People with a new cancer diagnosis are often feeling vulnerable and scared,” said Renee DiResta, a researcher who studies disinformation.
The treatments for cancer, especially chemotherapy — which targets cancerous cells but can also kill or damage healthy ones — can come with significant, unpleasant side effects. Beth Chapman Has Died; Called Chemo “Poison”
Facing the horrors of such a diagnosis and treatment, some people search for information and community online.
What they find can be quite disturbing to medical professionals: home remedies that purport to cure diseases with baking soda, frankincense, silver particles.
Google and Facebook have promised to crack down on health misinformation in recent months, as links between anti-vaccine conspiracy theories and measles outbreaks become major news …