Are About.com ‘Experts’ Liable?

This makes my head spin, and itch. An About.com expert recently advised people to consider using veterinary products to treat head lice. At least one commentator begged the author to take the post down.

The author has been a chemistry expert since 2001. This kind of bad advice makes me question the reliability of About.com and it has me wondering whether the site itself would be liable if some harm resulted from people following bad advice. The site has a medical review board that reviews any advice that is categorized as medical. The bad advice coming from a chemistry expert is very much medical in nature but is apparently not in the purview of this board.

EDIT: Here is the meaty part of the user agreement on About.com, I guess they are pretty much off the hook…

THE SERVICE AND THE SITES ARE PROVIDED ON AN “AS IS” BASIS WITHOUT WARRANTIES OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF TITLE OR IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY OR FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, OTHER THAN THOSE WARRANTIES WHICH ARE IMPOSED BY AND INCAPABLE OF EXCLUSION, RESTRICTION OR MODIFICATION UNDER THE LAWS APPLICABLE TO THIS AGREEMENT. NEITHER ABOUT.COM NOR ITS AFFILIATES ENDORSE OR ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR THE ACCURACY OR RELIABILITY OF ANY OPINION, ADVICE OR STATEMENT ON THE SERVICE OR THE SITES.

UPDATE: I emailed a few people about this issue on the day that I found out about it. Once my concern came to the attention of some doctors on the medical review board it was dealt with quickly. The article is gone.




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