TikTok has become a hub for mental health content, with the hashtag “mental health” being searched more than 67 billion times. However, the platform’s algorithm has been pushing potentially harmful content to young users, leading to serious consequences.
TikTok’s Algorithm Pushes Potentially Harmful Content
The platform’s algorithm picks videos for users based on what they have searched, shared, and liked. This has led to some users being flooded with hundreds of videos about mental health conditions, which has caused anxiety and even led to self-diagnosis.
A recent study showed that TikTok pushed potentially harmful mental health content to “teen” users on average every 39 seconds. Some users were even shown content about suicide within 2.6 minutes of joining the app.
Debunking Mental Health Misinformation on TikTok
Dr. Inna Kanevsky, a professor at San Diego’s Mesa College, has become TikTok famous by debunking mental health misinformation. With over a million followers, she uses her personal experience to give advice to users. However, she has flagged harmful content to TikTok and has been unsuccessful in getting them to take it down.
TikTok’s Response to Mental Health Content
TikTok declined to discuss their algorithm and the mental health content that is being pushed to young users. They did state that they are “testing ways to avoid recommending a series of similar content on topics” and encourage users to get professional medical advice. They also remove harmful information regardless of intent.
Detoxing from Social Media and Seeking Help
Users like Samantha Fridley have had to check out and detox from social media due to the negative impact it had on their mental health. Seeking professional help and using social media for positive content can displace negative posts.
While TikTok’s mental health content has helped raise awareness about mental health, the platform’s algorithm has been pushing potentially harmful content to young users. It is essential that users seek professional medical advice and use social media for positive content to avoid the negative impact it can have on mental health. TikTok needs to take responsibility for the content that they are promoting and ensure that their platform does not become a danger to users’ mental health.