In another season of the pandemic, financial advice was all the rage on TikTok, regardless of the quality of those tips. But with the company’s recent ban on financial services branded content—ranging from cryptocurrencies to buy now, pay later (BNPL) services—the market for money advice on TikTok has changed.
But regardless of TikTok’s policy change, is the service really the best place to go for financial advice anyway?
Finding fact vs. fiction on TikTok
Jokes, memes, and useless information are great on TikTok if you just want to doom scroll and take your mind off the latest international crisis. But misinformation (and disinformation) is rampant on the interwebs, and TikTok influencers are no exception.
Sure, TikTok warns users on its #fintok page: “Before following any financial advice, keep in mind that all investments involve risks and consider doing your own research.”
But epidemiologists who’ve spent their entire careers studying, I don’t know, virus mutations, have consistently warned people about the risks involved with not getting vaccinated, and yet, just over 50% of the total U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19, according to the CDC, despite the Delta variant becoming more of a problem across the country. So, forgive me if I don’t think your average TikTok user is taking that warning to heart.
Paxful analyzed more than 1,200 videos from popular TikTok financial influencers and identified them as misleading if they didn’t include a disclaimer of some sort. According to the report, roughly 14% of videos from TikTok finance influencers are misleading, and that misleading content has more than 28 million views. That’s seven times the number of viewers that tuned into the season finale of Mare of Easttown over Memorial Day weekend. Of the videos analyzed, only 13% had a disclaimer either in the user’s bio or video description.
Who can you trust with financial advice?
When you’re seeking advice on anything, you want to make sure you’re going to a reliable source. Maybe don’t ask the guy with BO what deodorant he’d recommend, and take the picky eater’s opinion on sushi with a grain of salt (or rice, as it were).
Only 1-in-10 finance influencers on TikTok disclose their credentials (or lack thereof). Transparency is critical in any source of information. If you’re “sus,” as the kids say, there’s probably a good reason why.
Both media literacy and financial literacy are key to finding the right financial resources. And there are plenty of other places to get solid, reliable financial advice, be it on your savings, investments, debt repayment, or any other money-related topic. Consider hiring a financial advisor or consulting a CPA.
Leave the financial advice to the experts, and stick to TikTok for learning the latest dance craze and discovering the next skateboard/Ocean Spray/Fleetwood Mac charmer.