A new study has revealed that Brits act on health advice seen online an average of 4 times a year by sharing with friends, researching symptoms or purchasing products.
One in 10 have taken advice that they later found to be inaccurate. With viral incentivised platforms such as TikTok, viewers are sharing videos with their friends before TikTok even has the chance to take them down.
The research, commissioned by Superdrug Online Doctor, tackles the rise of health misinformation posted on social media. With many self-claimed medical experts on the platform sharing advice and diagnoses, snippets of false information are being openly consumed by unknowing users.
The new study explores the negative impact of consuming health misinformation online with help from qualified doctors discussing how we can spot misinformation before we act on it.
How is health misinformation damaging?
Viewing incorrect or misleading content can lead people to self-diagnose inaccurately and cause needless anxiety due to the lack of professional insight, with viral videos being spread quickly and unstoppably.
The survey highlighted the negative impacts of such content on social media, showing that consuming such content can have a negative impact on mental health (65%), general confidence (63%), personal relationships (53%), and social life (50%).
Articles with “TikTok” and “fake” in the title have had an 812% increase since last December
While Instagram was voted the most trusted platform for health advice overall (15%) and Twitter the least trusted (7%), the research commissioned by Superdrug Online Doctor showed how TikTok was the most trusted by younger generations.
With 38.9% of TikTok users between the ages of 18 and 24, the study continued to reveal that 58% of viewers aged 16-24 believe that the health advice they consume on social media is accurate.
The research also shows articles with “TikTok” and “fake” in the title have had an 812% increase since last December, suggesting a large rise in reporting of misinformation on the platform.
Superdrug Online Doctor spoke to psychologist Smriti Joshi, who shared her top tips on how to spot a misleading post and ensure you fact-check the content you consume:
- Be aware of social media algorithms
- Have a critical eye and ear and ask if this is right for you
- Always ensure to check the source of the information you are accessing
- If a piece of information looks magical, it’s probably too good to be true
- Remember we all have unique bodies and unique needs