The dangers of misinformation and TikTok’s “non-toxic living” trend

Grace Monk, Editor

In recent years, TikTok has become the world’s top social media platform. Once a place for lip syncing and dance challenges, the platform has now become a guidebook for generation Z and beyond. While content creators have brought users together throughout the world, TikTok has also become a place of misinformation.  

TikTok has over 1 billion users worldwide, allowing creators to post any information they want. Users are exposed to a variety of content on their “For You” page which, is an algorithm-based content generator. Most users spend their time scrolling through this page, giving them little control over the content they view. 

A recent trend called “non-toxic living” has been taking over users’ “For You” pages. This trend features users getting rid of household cleaners and items that they consider to be toxic. Creators urge viewers to avoid using common household products, claiming they destroy the body’s endocrine system. The trend has left many TikTok users in fear, as they feel that everything they own is killing them.  

The issue with this trend is that the claims being made by some users do not have research-based evidence to support them. These claims are then reposted by other creators, leading to a spread of misinformation. In addition to this, the volume of information being spread is causing confusion and panic amongst the platform’s userbase.  

Seeing people comment that they live in fear every day because everything in their house is “poison” is both sad and frustrating. Influencing people to buy beauty products is an issue with impulse; influencing people to believe information about their health that is not supported by reliable research is something much bigger.  

Non-toxic living is not the only trend of misinformation and fear being spread. It is common for creators to give medical advice or share health-related conditions on their page. This commonly leads to users self-diagnosing or living in fear of becoming sick. A recent trend of “hormone health” and “hormone imbalances” has many female users worried.   

In the Fall of 2022, claims circulated that eating a “carrot salad” every day would fix female hormone imbalances. The salad consisted of shaved carrot ribbons, vinegar, lemon juice, salt and black pepper. No research has been conducted to prove this, but many users said they felt better by doing this. Numerous Gynecologists and health professionals have stated that eating a carrot salad alone does not balance female hormones. However, many of them acknowledge the benefits of eating a healthy diet and encourage women to do so. 

The influential nature of TikTok has flaws, but it can be beneficial too.  TikTok has the ability to help those in need. From giving people cash raised by viewers or saving a failing business, the platform has changed the lives of many. Some creators even have pages dedicated to raising money to help strangers.  

TikTok also provides users with real-life advice. It can be beneficial to hear the experiences of others when navigating difficult situations. Some users may find comfort in the stories shared which creates a sense of community. For individuals that cannot afford to visit a doctor, the remedies shared on TikTok can help them when they are sick.  

Some users promoting non-toxic living encourage users to make conscious choices when purchasing household items. People are more likely to look at the ingredients to determine whether or not it is safe for them to use. It also encourages them to understand the ethics and implications of the brands from which they purchase products. 

It should also be noted that many creators post with the intent to help, not harm. Regardless of intention, it is important for creators to verify the information they are sharing or to add a disclaimer. Disclaimers can notify audiences that the information provided has not been verified and that the creator is not a professional. Adding a disclaimer helps users understand the difference between personal and factual claims. 

TikTok users also understand that misinformation on the internet is possible, and they should research the claims being made. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy, but completely avoiding disease can be difficult. According to Mayo Clinic and the CDC, maintaining a healthy weight, eating a balanced diet and staying active are some of the best methods to reduce the risk of disease and illness.  

It is impossible to avoid misinformation when using Tik Tok. To avoid living in fear, TikTok users should verify information before taking it seriously.