Doctors warn of worrying health advertising on Google

March 20th, 2009 - 5:35 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Mar 20 (ANI): Google needs to keep a strict check on the its advertisements and suggested links to avoid providing users with web pages that contain dubious medical claims, warn doctors.

While writing in British Medical Journal, Dr Marco Masoni from the University of Florence in Italy revealed that as the internet is not well policed and regulated, it is up to members of the medical community to be vigilant and to suggest improvements.

Google AdWords is a service that matches key search terms to related advertising.

Through it, users can create advertisements, choose their own key words, and decide which Google queries their advertisements should match.

However, according to Masoni, Google’’s automated matching to search terms sometimes places inappropriate advertisements.

Masoni revealed that he and his colleagues recently used Google Italia to search on the keyword “aloe” and found sponsored links to websites recommending aloe arborescens for the prevention and treatment of cancer and offering it for sale.

Although Google has improved its filters and automatically pulls ads from pages with disturbing content, the authors said more is required.

Google has often said that it wishes to enter the healthcare arena in many ways.

The research team said: “We think that a necessary first step for Google is to improve its filters and algorithms so as to prevent possible harm to its users.

“The internet has brought the canon of medical knowledge into the hands and homes of ordinary people, and this should be welcomed and encouraged as good for patients and doctors alike,” said Joanne Shaw from NHS Direct.

It is true that the Internet may be a further source of alarm for the worried well, but equally it encourages early presentation and action that could improve survival and reduce complications from long term conditions, she added. (ANI)

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