Videos on TikTok involving educational health content may have unverified claims, incomplete facts, and manipulative disinformation, with young users preferring to see what influencers do rather than expert advice.
A content analysis was carried out on 400 health videos from the ‘EduTok’ campaign (a hashtag challenge encouraging users to create educational and motivational content).
Audiences most often engaged with videos related to diet, exercise, and sexual health. Other videos designed to shock or scare were also preferred. Important topics such as sexual violence prevention were largely absent.
Videos with influencers had high viewership, but often lacked essential facts and failed to promote attainable lifestyle changes. Researchers also expressed concern on the amount of videos promoting self-diagnosis of mental health issues which may have a detrimental effect on the young audience.
Lead author Nicole O’Donnell said: ‘Authentic stories about people’s lives tended to generate a lot more engagement than a person in a white coat sharing their opinion. And so, one strategy we would recommend is to have health professionals find ways to share people’s authentic stories while also providing credible and reliable information.’
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