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Doctors and Nurses Turn to TikTok to Fight Covid Myths

When Christina Kim joined TIC Tac, she was looking for a new form of entertainment. Like many people in quarantine, she scrolled the platform aimlessly, liking the fun dance videos and posting clips of being a mom and a nurse practitioner during the pandemic. But after a while, she noticed a disturbing trend: videos and comments filled with false information about Covid-19. “It was a huge eye-opener,” she says. “I was so shocked to be exposed to this world of people – people who didn’t believe in science.

On a whim in July, she released a video work with a text that read, “Wearing a mask will NOT affect your oxygenation or cause ‘carbon dioxide poisoning’.” On Valentino Khan & Wuki’s song “Better”, she puts on a surgical mask as she estimates the percentage of your blood saturated with oxygen. The oximeter reads 98 percent (within normal range). She then puts on a thicker surgical mask, then an N95 mask and finally all three together. His oxygen level never drops below 98%.

The video has since been viewed 1.7 million times, turning Kim from a casual TikToker into one with over 50,000 subscribers. “I realized that maybe with so many followers, I had the opportunity to educate and dispel the myths,” she says.

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Kim is part of a legion of scientists, medical professionals, and other who went to TikTok to fight disinformation about Covid-19. With us coronavirus case now exceeding 6 million and with deaths approaching 190,000, the hugely popular social media platform may provide a way to educate people while keeping them entertained and entertained.

Disinformation, or “fake news,” as it is often called, is not new. Organizations, from the Nazis to the tabloids, have disseminated inaccurate information to control a narrative or generate revenue. On social media, these rumors can travel faster and further. Think about filming officers at a federal courthouse in Oakland, Calif., in May. The incident took place amid protests against the police murder of George Floyd, leading some – including Vice President Mike Pence – to blame the shot on the Black Lives Matter protesters. In fact, the man accused of the shooting was linked to the far-right Boogaloo movement.

When social media first appeared in the early 2000s, the first disinformation efforts on blogs or MySpace often featured bad graphics, background music, or poor layout, which made them easier to understand. detect, says Jen Golbeck, a professor in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. But platforms like Facebook and Twitter are standardizing the appearance of their pages, making it harder for viewers to know when they are viewing false information. And groups like Russia Internet research agency learned to blend in by mastering the culture of memes, placing a greater burden on individuals to distinguish fact from fiction.

Misinformation often flourishes in the aftermath of a crisis, says Kate Starbird, a professor in the College of Engineering at the University of Washington. This is exaggerated by the protracted Covid-19 pandemic. “It’s not just a few days after an earthquake or hurricane,” Starbird says. “It is an uncertainty for months, months and months about the nature of the disease, the best response, the effectiveness of the masks. It’s ubiquitous.

When Kim, who is a nurse practitioner at a major Boston hospital, started scrolling through TikTok, the disinformation about Covid-19 seemed endless. “There’s the idea that masks are bad, Covid is a hoax, the pandemic is real but not as bad as the media claim, the conspiracy theory that it was created by scientists and that it has aired during the war. election year to sabotage Trump, ”she said. She was particularly upset by a commentator on her mask video who claimed that the number of Covid-19 cases had been inflated, due to all the time and energy she and others have spent on treat Covid-19 patients.

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