These TikTok creators are fighting health myths

“It’s possible to work with brands and still be based on facts and science,” she said, but admitted that “it’s partly necessary because debunking took so many of my hours.”

RS. Wong quit her job in 2019 to devote herself full-time to Lab Muffin Beauty Science, but she still sometimes works up to 70 hours a week. “Science just takes a lot longer than disinformation because you have to do the research properly,” she said.

Once a whistleblower gains an audience, the work of maintaining and creating an account can also lead to burnout. Like most influencers, they push themselves to succeed. Like dr. Austin Chung, a gastroenterologist with over half a million TikTok followers, explained that they often blame themselves if their content is ineffective. “We think it’s because my posts aren’t very good?” he said. “Is it because the video quality is bad?”

Dr. Wallace said the most tiring element was the harassment. She is repeatedly insulted by commentators, and when she posts in favor of vaccination, they accuse her of being a “barker for Big Pharma.” “I block accounts every day,” said Dr. Wallace. She also received threatening and sexual assault messages through her university email account, a situation that she said required the university police to intervene earlier this year.

For healthcare professionals, harassment can also lead to professional repercussions or fear of them. “Many people’s institutions don’t want them to attract a lot of negative attention,” said Rene DiResta, disinformation expert and head of technical research at the Stanford Internet Observatory, which studies Internet propaganda. Doctors urge to treat patients. Scientists are encouraged to conduct research and present their findings for peer review. Create content on TikTok? Less.

mr. Dahir considered leaving TikTok after users found the address of his pharmacy and spread rumors about his professional and personal life. He was also scheduled to meet with the Dean of Medicine at the University of Sydney and explain why the university was receiving complaints. mr. Dahir said he feels supported by his university, but worries that this could change quickly. “One wrong move and I could be fired from my job or kicked out of university,” he said. “I have to make sure I don’t screw up.”