British Columbia researchers – Victoria News

Two researchers from the University of British Columbia want more studies to be done on the scope and effects of TikTok on current public health issues.

Associate Professor Skye Barbic said more than a billion people use social media for 17 hours a month, 80% of whom are under the age of 30.

“Given TikTok’s influence on discourse on important public health topics, I think it’s critical that we understand what’s happening on the platform, how people are using it, and how we can improve experiences from a safety perspective, especially for young people, ”said Barbic. “It’s very rare that you see something so widely used that has so little research on it.”

Research associate Marco Zenone said that while TikTok makes efforts to eliminate misinformation, it is generally limited to COVID.

“We need it for cancer treatment misinformation or content promoting unproven medical interventions,” Zenone said.

“TikTok can be used for good, but it can also be used for nefarious purposes. A bad actor who doesn’t have the best intentions can easily affect a lot of people.

Zenone said that in the past, research had focused too much on the public health opportunities offered by social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, instead of examining the negative implications.

“For example, a recent study found that 98 of the top 100 TikTok videos with the hashtag #alcohol portrayed alcohol in a positive way. This concerns us as public health researchers,” he said.

“With other platforms, we’ve always had to catch up and take action only after significant harm has occurred, like COVID-19 misinformation or the rapid spread of JUUL vaping products through Instagram.”

Barbic said researchers need to work with TikTok users to understand how information is disseminated so they can respond accurately.

“It may force us to be a little more non-traditional in our research methods, to be in new spaces and to listen and learn,” she said.

“We have so much work to do as a research community to engage users and understand their perspectives. “


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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