How To Detect Sexual Health Myths In Social Media

With the internet, things move so fast. You're getting information, infographics, and tweets about current events thrown at you left and right without a breather in between. Sometimes these things elicit anger or disbelief, and other times they make you feel called to action. But because they're from social media, it's hard to say whether or not they're telling the truth unless they have links to sources they used. And when it comes to TikTok, which is even more widely consumed and fast-paced, it's nearly impossible to figure out if the tips or warnings you're seeing are actually things you need to worry about, especially if they're sharing health or sexual advice.

With TikTok especially, "experts" make a living off of shocking claims or educational videos. However, how can you tell if what they're telling you is true or if they even hold credentials in whatever field they're "working" in? Sometimes you can't dig and find out if someone is an actual doctor or expert. But regardless, you should be able to still spot or find out if their claims are false. And when it comes to your sexual health especially, you want to make sure you're not following "facts" and tips that are entirely made up.

Investigate the claims and who posted it

With the prospect of going viral online being so intoxicating to some creators, it makes sense that people come up with outlandish or purposely incorrect information. They want the clicks or the views. But what if something really makes you think? ABC News reported that it's important to first ask yourself if this could be real or true.

National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) wrote a detailed guide on what to do if you're not sure if you're reading misinformation. One of the biggest things you shouldn't do is share the post or video before making sure the info is true. You can also look at the comments to see if others are as skeptical as you are. ABC News noted that the account can be debunked right away if you can't find any other accounts for the person who posted the info. And if they claim to be an accredited expert, you can also check on that. Looking at their main account can also give you a hint as to whether they're authentic or not. If they only post outrageous content and claims, it's possible they're only in it for clicks and not truth. Following health advice from someone who might not be qualified to give it, regardless of what their bio says or who they claim to be, can prove to be dangerous.

If it sounds too wild to be true, it probably is

There are countless TikTok "facts" or "discoveries" that are truly wild. Myths perpetuated by social media can range so many topics, from skincare to sexual health tips and tricks to wellness. We live at a time when so many hacks are being discovered or unknown facts are just coming to light. But amidst new information, you really have to ask yourself if something is just a little too wild to be true.

Wacky or not, even if a video gives great advice that opens your eyes to something you're interested in, it could still be false. If something like this happens, make sure to check up on the information first. ABC News reported that this should be one of your first steps at beating out misinformation. Google is a great source, but make sure you're aware of where you're getting that information, too. As Colleen Sinclair, Ph.D., a professor at Louisiana State University, wrote for Psychology Today, there are ways to check if a source is biased or even real. ABC News reported on a list of sites to check your sources by a non-profit called Bellingcat.

As Dr. Sinclair wrote, a lot of false information is meant to shock you, anger you, or surprise you. If you have a strong reaction to a claim, make sure to do your research before you keep spouting the same sexual health myths even further.