You just heard of a new supplement while speaking to your friend. You do a search online for “benefits of vitamin xyz.” You see many results with the title of “the benefits of vitamin xyz.” You visit these sites and most of them list about 10 health benefits of the vitamin you searched for. You figure this vitamin you heard of must be amazing based on what you read (upwards of 2 to 3 results from a website called Healthline – which search engines like because of the kickbacks and trackers websites like this include).
Wrong. The search engine companies have manually fixed these results so that when you search for “benefits of xyz” you get an echo chamber and you do not get any contrasting views. You see what you want to see. Therefore, you are being subjected to an unbalanced analysis on the vitamin you are trying to research, because you included the phrase “benefits of.”
The search engine company notices you click and view many of these websites and decides to include more of these types of results to keep you searching longer, providing you with information that could be detrimental to your health. They even contact the website providing this information and convince them to use their ad networks on their website, so that they can profit from your increased activity (from being excited that this vitamin you now know of provides you with so many benefits).
Here is what you can do to protect yourself:
Always look for “dangers” or “warnings” or “interactions” of the vitamin or supplement you are searching for. Never trust what you find online as being definitive and realize that search engines don’t provide completely appropriate results, focusing on what makes them the most money.