Recently, I was following a nationally-recognized Medical facility on twitter when something odd occurred. First, allow me to summarize my experience as a “follower” of theirs. Their social media accounts, both Facebook and Twitter, provide many excellent examples of engaging and informative posts. Kudos to their team for not only providing eye-catching images and interesting headlines, but also for leading many readers to groundbreaking research and medical articles. The articles contained in their links are often very applicable to the common consumer and answer a lot of questions many of us are afraid to ask of the medical community—things that might seem too silly, embarrassing or frightening to ask a local medical professional but matters that are important to us nevertheless.
Back to last week’s experience. As I was scrolling briefly through that day’s twitter feed on my phone, looking for intriguing or uplifting tweets and links, I was scrolling in reverse chronological order a nd came across the headline “Doing THIS can lead to a heart attack within 26 hours.” Well, that sounded like something I needed to read right away, for fear I could be partaking in the dreaded behavior and be unaware of it. I followed the link to find an article, complete with infographic, containing some facts about urinating in public pools. I had to ask myself, “Is that particular behavior really THAT dangerous?” (and “glad I don’t DO that!”) Well, my gullibility only lasted a nano-second before I came to my senses and realized that a simpler explanation was more likely—that the link contained in the tweet was simply an error, and that maybe someone had copied and pasted in a link they had used just prior. After scrolling further into the past tweets earlier in the day, I had indeed seen a tweet addressing the more light-hearted and less urgent topic of public pool urination.
Many twitter followers replied with tweets of (mostly humorously fake) concern and comments on the article jested about the fact they arrived at the pool article via the tweet alarming them of impending heart attacks, the fact remained that it’s possible someone may have taken the link seriously. I think we all had fun with it and understood it was a simple mistake. However, it did remind us to be careful of the links we include with our social media messages, because if an organization is going to be a reliable source on their area of expertise, we don’t want to allow misinformation to cause our customers, followers, readers, etc. undue stress.
This morning I saw a tweet linking to the correct article and now feel more reassured that I am more aware of the true exacerbating factors that can lead to a heart attack, as frightening as they may be.