The Tiktok Trap: Exposing the perils of misinformation in academic referencing

The Tiktok Trap: Exposing the perils of misinformation in academic referencing

In an age where information is just a tap away, the credibility of sources becomes paramount. The recent resurfacing of the American Psychological Association (APA) guide on referencing TikTok videos brings to light the concerning trend of legitimizing social media platforms as scholarly sources.

While TikTok undoubtedly serves as a hub for entertainment and quick information bites, treating it as a reputable reference poses significant risks, especially in an era plagued by the proliferation of fake news.

The APA guidelines outline a structured format for citing TikTok content, from individual videos to user profiles. However, this method fails to address the inherent challenges associated with relying on TikTok as a credible source. Here’s why treating TikTok as a reference is fundamentally flawed:

Lack of verification

TikTok’s open platform allows anyone to create and share content, regardless of expertise or accuracy. Unlike traditional scholarly sources, TikTok lacks rigorous fact-checking mechanisms and editorial oversight, making it susceptible to misinformation and manipulation.

Limited context

TikTok’s format imposes strict limitations on content duration, often restricting complex topics to bite-sized snippets. Consequently, TikTok videos may oversimplify or distort information, leading to a shallow understanding of nuanced issues.

Algorithmic bias

TikTok’s recommendation algorithm is designed to prioritize engaging content over accuracy. This algorithmic bias perpetuates echo chambers and filter bubbles, reinforcing existing beliefs and amplifying misinformation.

Transient nature

TikTok’s ephemeral nature poses challenges in verifying and preserving content. Unlike traditional publications, TikTok videos can be easily deleted or modified, rendering references obsolete and irreproducible.

Proliferation of misinformation

The viral nature of TikTok facilitates the rapid spread of misinformation, often disguised as factual content. Users may unknowingly cite misleading or debunked information, perpetuating the cycle of misinformation.

Given these inherent limitations, it is crucial to approach TikTok content with skepticism and critical thinking. While TikTok may serve as a source of inspiration or entertainment, it should never replace rigorous research and scholarly scrutiny. Instead, educators and researchers should encourage students and peers to seek information from reputable sources, verify claims independently and engage in thoughtful discourse.

Citing TikTok as a reference is a dangerous precedent that undermines the principles of academic integrity and critical thinking. By fostering a culture of skepticism and discernment, we can mitigate the spread of misinformation and uphold the integrity of academic discourse in the digital age.


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