Leave it to TikTokers to make this world not a better place…
TikTok has gained a lot of publicity (and not the good kind) thanks to users following dumb trends on the app without any proper information and ending up in the hospital. This time, thanks to a teenager and her hack to “earn extra money”, it lead to the disruption of thousands of scientific studies conducted online.
Sarah Frank, a recent high school grad and of course, a TikTok user thought she was doing everyone a favor when she posted a video online on 23rd July telling her views about Prolific, a survey website used by scientists and companies to conduct behavioral research. The website allows users to sign up and complete surveys by offering them a small payment in return.
Thanks to Frank’s video that was viewed over 4 million times, the website quickly gained popularity as new users began to sign up, mostly who were young women and from Frank’s viewer demographics. And while you might think that’s a good thing for the website to get more survey responses, the data which was being collected for various researches is now mostly from young girls in their teens to early twenties so it’s skewed and practically useless for the research. Talk about all the research going down the drain…
One member of the Stanford Behavioral Lab posted on the Prolific forum dissecting the trend saying ‘We have noticed a huge leap in the number of participants on the platform in the US Pool, from 40k to 80k. Which is great, however, now a lot of our studies have a gender skew where maybe 85% of participants are women. Plus the age has been averaging around 21.”
This led Hannah Schecter, a psychologist to the core of the sudden website popularity and that was none other than *drum rolls* Sarah Frank.
According to Phelim Bradley, Prolific co-founder, the sudden surge of users is already beginning to drop off. “Prior to Tiktok, about 50 percent of the responses on our platform came from women. The surge knocked this up as high as 75 percent for a few days, but since then, this number has been trending down, and we’re currently back to ~60 percent of responses being from women.”
If you’re also an avid TikTok user, please think twice before posting as your actions can have huge consequences.