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Search Engines Often Return Inaccurate Health Info, Research Says

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Researchers at Germany's Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg and Russia's Ural Federal University found search engines often return inaccurate health information.

The team analyzed some 1.5 billion queries to Russia's Yandex engine, and identified 1.2 million containing symptoms, diseases, and alternative treatment options. Most queries framed as questions concerned whether a particular remedy helped to treat a specific disease, or sought instructions on using a certain remedy for that purpose.

The researchers also reviewed Yandex and Google's response to the 30 most frequently asked questions, and analyzed the first 10 search snippets for each for accuracy and warnings about possible health risks. Yandex and Google answered falsely that a remedy worked against a certain disease 44% and about 33% of the time, respectively, and flagged warnings about potentially toxic substances in just 13% and 10% of cases, respectively.

From Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg
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Abstracts Copyright © 2021 SmithBucklin, Washington, DC, USA


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