TikTok, MD

Social media has been a hotbed of health falsehoods throughout the pandemic. That's why some physicians first flocked toward TikTok — and stayed.

"Social-media users aren't necessarily the people you'd expect to provide clear and nuanced information about staying safe during a pandemic, but these doctors, nurses, and academics are slowing the bleeding of trust that institutions have suffered over the past two years and informing a new generation of news consumers," Christian Paz writes for The Atlantic

Katrine Wallace, PhD, epidemiologist with University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health, posted her first video in August 2020, when her account had 20 followers. Her debut was a minute-long explainer walking viewers through how COVID-19 death certificates are completed. In a few days, the video accumulated nearly 100,000 views. Today, Dr. Wallace (or @epidemiologistkat on TikTok) has nearly 250,000 followers with more recent videos on COVID-19 testing, a breakdown of 'flurona's' threat and a series on the common techniques COVID-19 skeptics use to mislead. 

Like Dr. Wallace, many science communicators and medical professionals have gotten more organized on TikTok since spring and summer 2020 with a focus on educating viewers how to recognize traits of misinformation or how to scrutinize studies and data sets. There are also established platforms for these communicators to partner with, such as Team Halo, a United Nations–backed social-media campaign that enlisted scientists and healthcare professionals in late 2020 to address vaccine hesitancy and false information about the coronavirus.

"By doing this, they hope they can pass on news- and information-consumption tactics that can apply to other topics, scientific or not, and skills that will stick with their audience long after the pandemic subsides," according to The Atlantic.

Read the piece in full here.   

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