Who’s responsible for the advertisements?

This one is a damning report from Financial Times. It writes extensively about the abuse of the process of advertising on social media.

Self-diagnosis ads on TikTok blur mental health fears with reality | Financial Times

Advertising aside, the phenomenon taps into a pandemic-fuelled explosion of mental health content. Peppy influencers sharing their checklists of symptoms have increasingly filled my feeds over the past two years, centring on conditions such as OCD, dissociative identity disorder and autism. Sizeable subcultures of sufferers have bubbled up: on TikTok, the hashtag ADHD has 10.6bn views, anxiety has 13.1bn, neurodivergent has nearly 3bn. 

The downside of TikTok is rather alarming:

Last year, this phenomenon played out with a rise in teen girls coming to doctors’ offices with tics, which were attributed in part to TikTok. According to a letter published in the British Medical Journal, young sufferers “report that they gain peer support, recognition and a sense of belonging from this exposure. This attention and support may be inadvertently reinforcing and maintaining symptoms”. Some have called this the “horoscope effect” — essentially a self-fulfilling prophecy.

emphasis mine

As again, social media offers zero benefits to users. There is no iota of information there. I follow specific users on Twitter by making private Twitter lists and adding or subtracting users if they don’t add value to my interaction.

The author concludes:

For all the flaws of the healthcare system, it is clear social media platforms need to police both medical advertising and user-generated content more carefully — and tame the algorithms which feed on them. Advertisers are “taking advantage of a barrier to psychiatric services in the US in particular,” Little points out. “They are trying to exploit this diagnosis gap.”

This is wishful thinking. The only way to stem the rot is to either block this social media or shut down the companies. Despite the overwhelming negativity, I find it hard to understand why users flock to it.

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