The Dangerous Borax Challenge of TikTok

Now Spreading to Facebook: Why Are They Doing This?

Screenshot of a Borax challenge © dann-tann / TikTok
Screenshot of a Borax challenge © dann-tann / TikTok

Why TikTokers are Drinking Laundry Detergent?

The borax challenge, previously popularized on TikTok as #boraxchallenge, has now found its way to Facebook, raising concerns about the reasons behind its spread to other social media platforms. The rise of the #boraxchallenge on TikTok has brought attention to a dangerous trend, with individuals posting videos of themselves drinking borax and claiming various health benefits. While TikTok influencers share their “recipes” and experiences, it’s essential to understand that consuming borax can have severe health consequences.

The Misguided Trend

Borax is a chemical compound containing boron and is commonly sold as laundry detergent or a cleaning agent. However, ingesting borax can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, and skin rashes, and prolonged consumption can cause anemia, as per the National Capital Poison Center. Despite these risks, some online communities propagate misinformation, promoting borax as a cure for various ailments, including arthritis and cancer. This trend, known as the #boraxchallenge, gained immense popularity on TikTok, with millions of views and numerous users trying the practice.

The Danger of Accessibility

Many TikTok videos promoting borax consumption create an illusion of accessibility, making viewers believe that it’s safe and beneficial. The allure of a quick and easy “health hack” often leads to dangerous trends as individual videos detach from their original context and spread rapidly, leaving people vulnerable to potential harm. This dynamic is why health misinformation can thrive on TikTok, even though the platform may not officially endorse it.

The Human Toll

Some individuals, desperate for relief from chronic pain and seeking alternative remedies, fell victim to the misinformation. People like Melissa, who consumed borax in hopes of easing her spinal condition, experienced severe adverse effects, including vomiting and headaches. Although she was aware of the risks, the perceived success stories of others swayed her judgment, resulting in a distressing experience.

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Monetizing Misinformation

The borax challenge has become a part of a wider health misinformation cottage industry that extends beyond TikTok. Some individuals attempt to capitalize on this trend, exploiting vulnerable audiences for profit. While TikTok has removed many videos promoting borax consumption due to its community guidelines, the misinformation continues to spread on other platforms like Facebook.

Challenges in Addressing Misinformation

Tackling health misinformation on TikTok and other platforms is challenging due to the rapid cycle of trends. As misinformation gains traction, platforms often respond to public outrage and remove such content. However, by the time moderation efforts take effect, the misinformation might have already reached many viewers, making it difficult to quantify its impact fully.

Seeking Accurate Information

Addressing misinformation is a collective responsibility, and users can play a crucial role by sharing accurate information and debunking false claims. Chemistry experts, like the account Chem Thug, attempt to counter the trend by educating viewers about the dangers of borax consumption. However, efforts to combat misinformation face obstacles, including potential removal of such informative content by platforms’ moderation algorithms.

In conclusion, the borax challenge exemplifies the dangerous influence of health misinformation on social media platforms like TikTok. While TikTok tries to curb such trends, the rapid cycle of trends and misinformation’s allure create challenges in maintaining an accurate and safe environment. Responsible users and experts must continue to spread accurate information to protect vulnerable audiences from potential harm.

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