Check the Date... in Your News Feed.

Often on Facebook, I’ll see images associated with it being "National Something Day" floating through my news feed—on basically a daily basis. When I see these, I now impulsively check the date on the original post. After all, as much as I love dogs, hasn’t it been National Dog Day 5 times this year? Y’all live in the same nation. And come on, we ALL KNOW that it’s only Talk Like a Pirate Day once a year—it’s September 17, if you want to mark your calendar! Most of the time, these mis-informative posts going around on the wrong day aren’t harmful—but in some cases, they can cause unnecessary panic.

The case of the inhaler recall

Facebook is an amazing way to ensure friends and family check their medications to ensure they do not fall under a drug recall or warning—we’ve witnessed this recently in the case of Epi-Pens that may not easily come out of the protective tube due to a label snafu (these are not recalled, but users are advised to check their auto-injectors) and the recall of a commonly used blood pressure medication called valsartan found to contain carcinogenic compounds.
Recently, however, a Ventolin-brand inhaler recall began re-circulating, causing completely unnecessary panic among many with asthma. In February 2018, an April 2017 recall notice began recirculating on Facebook. [1] Again, due to it seemingly being National Dog Day many times a year, the first thing I do when I look at a post or article is to check the date.

Always. Read. The. Date.

Taking 3 seconds to not skim past the date on an article or Facebook share certainly saved me a lot of hassle. Instead of reading the article and taking time to check Ventolin lot numbers (and find all the Ventolins I have floating around), I simply noted this “recall” was a year old, and returned to my well-meaning friend and calmly noted “Thanks for sharing that, but this is an old recall.”

Often, these recalls that float around Facebook are legitimate, and shared appropriately. But the case of the Ventolin recall here is the reason to hold your potential alarm or reactivity off just a few seconds to ensure you are responding appropriately—it’s also important not to further perpetuate this sense of alarm for others by not sharing incorrect information!

Always, always take those few seconds to read the date.

Use caution on social media

Social media can be useful, but it can also be alarmist, giving us quick snippets instead of complete facts at times. Being aware of what you are reading, who the source is, how old the information is, and fact-checking media reports you’re consuming can help ensure you are well informed about what’s important and aren’t accidentally perpetuating misinformation that may affect others adversely—even if that is “just" via unneeded stress. And when in doubt, checking Google News, or sites like Snopes—you can read about their methodology here. It does not hurt to be careful about controlling the information you’re sharing online!

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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