Search This Blog

Saturday, August 12, 2023

TikTok Misinformation

 In The Politics of Autism, I examine the role of social media in the development of the issue

"The Reach and Accuracy of Information on Autism on TikTok," by Diego Aragon-Guevara,
Grace CastleElisabeth Sheridan &Giacomo Vivanti
Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders (2023) Cite this article

Purpose: Although social media platforms have made information about autism more accessible to the general public, concerns have been raised about the unfiltered nature of the content they host. In the current study, we examined the reach and accuracy of videos providing informational content about autism on TikTok, a popular social media platform. Methods: We examined engagement indicators (including views and “likes”) for the TikTok videos associated with the #Autism hashtag. Two coders independently fact-checked informational content of the most viewed videos from the #Autism hashtag videos and coded it as either accurate, inaccurate or ‘overgeneralization’ based on the consistency of the information in the videos with current knowledge on autism. Results: Videos associated with the “#Autism” hashtag accrued 11.5 billion views collectively. An examination of the top 133 videos providing informational content on autism, which totaled 198.7 million views and 25.2 million likes, showed that 27% of the videos were classified as accurate, while 41% were classified as inaccurate and 32% as overgeneralized. There were no significant differences in engagement between accurate and inaccurate/overgeneralized videos. Videos created by healthcare professionals were more likely to include accurate information. Conclusion: The informational content about autism made available on TikTok reaches a wide number of people. Most of the information provided, however, appears to be misaligned with current knowledge. It is important for healthcare providers and other professionals to be aware of the autism-related content being shared on TikTok so that they can better engage with the large community of TikTok users.

From the article:

Given the reach of TikTok autism content, it is important that stakeholders in the autistic community (including autistic individuals, family members, and professionals interfacing with autism) are aware of the unfiltered nature of information about autism happening on TikTok and other social media. Misinformation about autism, including over generalization and oversimplification, has the potential to pose barriers to trust, communication and shared decisionmaking between professionals and autistic individuals and their families. This can be counteracted or mitigated by an increased awareness of autism-related content spread through TikTok. For example, professionals providing diagnostic or intervention services might benefit from familiarizing themselves with “trending topics” that are widely shared on TikTok, such as the promotion of untested products, or the adoption of an antagonistic stance against diagnostic or intervention protocols, so that constructive conversations about needs and supports for each individual can be established. The disconnect between information produced by scientific research and content shared on TikTok also points to the need for broadening research dissemination efforts so that reliable and fact-checked information can reach a broader audience.