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2023: Two-year Impact Factor: 2.4
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Health Promot Perspect. 2023;13(2): 105-112.
doi: 10.34172/hpp.2023.13
PMID: 37600540
PMCID: PMC10439458
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Perspective

Social media for public health: Reaping the benefits, mitigating the harms

Zain Jafar 1 ORCID logo, Jonathan D. Quick 2* ORCID logo, Heidi J. Larson 3,4 ORCID logo, Verner Venegas-Vera 5 ORCID logo, Philip Napoli 6 ORCID logo, Godfrey Musuka 7 ORCID logo, Tafadzwa Dzinamarira 8 ORCID logo, Kolar Sridara Meena 9 ORCID logo, T. Raju Kanmani 10 ORCID logo, Eszter Rimányi 11 ORCID logo

1 Trinity College of Arts and Sciences, Duke University, Durham, USA
2 Duke Global Health Institute, Duke University, Durham, USA
3 London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, UK
4 Institute for Health Metrics & Evaluation, University of Washington, Seattle, USA
5 Division of Internal Medicine, Mexican Institute of Social Security, Mexico
6 Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University, Durham, USA
7 International Initiative for Impact Evaluation (3ie), Harare, Zimbabwe
8 School of Health Sciences & Public Health, University of Pretoria, South Africa
9 Journal of Mental Health Education, Department of Mental Health Education, MIMHANS, India
10 Department of Psychiatric Social Work, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, India
11 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, USA
*Corresponding Author: Jonathan D. Quick, Email: jonathan.d.quick@duke.edu

Abstract

With more than 4.26 billion social media users worldwide, social media has become a primary source of health information, exchange, and influence. As its use has rapidly expanded, social media has proven to be a “doubled-edged sword,” with considerable benefits as well as notable harms. It can be used to encourage preventive behaviors, foster social connectivity for better mental health, enable health officials to deliver timely information, and connect individuals to reliable information. But social media also has contributed to public health crises by exacerbating a decline in public trust, deteriorating mental health (especially in young people), and spreading dangerous misinformation. These realities have profound implications for health professionals, social media companies, governments, and users. We discuss promising guidelines, digital safety practices, and regulations on which to build a comprehensive approach to healthy use of social media. Concerted efforts from social media companies, governments, users, public interest groups, and academia are essential to mitigate the harms and unlock the benefits of this powerful new technology.
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Submitted: 10 Apr 2023
Revision: 05 May 2023
Accepted: 06 May 2023
ePublished: 10 Jul 2023
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