Healthcare and Social Media

TikTok has become one of the most celebrated online forums for the modern age.

The short-form videos on the social media app cover a variety of topics and conversations. From tutorials, to art, to political discussion, it seems that there is something for everyone on the app. One of the more notable topics on the platform has been health, including general health tips, diet guides, and COVID-19 information, or the lack thereof. The intertwining issues between Healthcare and Social media will have a significant impact on the future.

One of the most significant challenges with healthcare and social media is the presence of misguiding, biased information from influencers that distrust the healthcare system. They try to build credibility with their audience by saying that the healthcare industry is unreliable or misleading due to big money, and that doctors don’t have your best interest at heart. Because of this, doctors on social media often dedicate their free time to fighting misinformation, or separating propaganda from fact. One of the most prominent doctors fighting misinformation regarding COVID vaccines is Dr. Katherine Wallace of The University of Illinois at Chicago (better known as epidemiologistkat on social media). For every person who sends her a negative message, she hears back from 10 people who say that her content convinced them to get vaccinated.

Truth in the Age of Information

Often times, the myths that these new age, faux-expert influencers push are dangerous for public health. It’s easy to find other kinds of politically charged misleading content on the website along with COVID-19 misinformation. These kinds of videos often offer solutions that are usually worse than the problem they’re trying to solve. One Gynecologist has been fighting against misinformation surrounding birth control for more than a year. It’s also common for people to suggest that chemotherapy and life-saving medications can cause cancer.

In addition, the people that prop up this misinformation often have admirers that are willing to harass and threaten the doctors who debunk their irresponsible content. This risk calls into question whether or not fighting misinformation is worth it. For many, however, the truth, and the safety of the sites’ users (who are predominantly teenagers) is worth the risk. Doctors like Katherine Wallace, Jayne Morgan, Trey Robinson, Jennifer Lincoln, Austin Chiang, Anna Blakney, Heather Irobunda, and many others have dealt with harassment from the anti-vax and anti-science movement in their efforts to promote good health online.

Children are a particularly reliable target for people who are trying to spread information. In a study published by Newsguard, researchers tested how long it would take for children to stumble across COVID-19 misinformation when logging onto TikTok for the first time. According to the aforementioned study, it only took 8 minutes for COVID misinformation to appear.

Preventative Medicine and Networking Platforms

These channels gain popularity in the first place through jokes about the subjects of health and vaccination. Given the emotional toll that many faced during lockdown, people needed a way to cope with the terrifying, changing world. Comedy proved to be extremely helpful for many people. This being said, many found significant issues with the way people were handling the sensitivity of the situation. From there, the negative punchlines became normalized. What started out as absurdist commentary turned into serious discussion, in regards to both the social elements of lockdown as well as the vaccine. Often times, correct information will be followed by and paired with intense misinformation, which often blurs the line of truth. The conversation surrounding humor connects to misinformation. So does the conversation around health information.

One can only hope that more Doctors can have the free time to dedicate themselves to preserving truth and public health. If there’s a history to look back on, these Doctors will be on the right side of it.

We can help

Our team of doctors here at Healthpointe are extremely dedicated to keeping our patients informed and healthy. If you or someone you love needs a consultation for a variety of issues and needs, as well as how to safely maneuver a post-COVID world, visit us here at Healthpointe today! Click on this form to schedule an appointment with us. We are also now offer texting services! Give us a call or text us to schedule an appointment today at (714) 367-5390.

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