January 2024

How TikTok is being used to talk about abortion post-Roe: A content analysis of the most liked abortion TikToks

Pleasure ZH, Becker A, Johnson DM, Broussard K, Lindberg L. Contraception. January 2024. DOI: 10.1016/j.contraception.2024.110384

Objective
Access to information about abortion is essential for ensuring reproductive autonomy, particularly post-Roe. TikTok, a popular video-sharing application, may be a source of information about abortion, yet little is known about the tone and content of such videos. To fill this gap, we analyze the most liked abortion videos on TikTok three months following the U.S. Supreme Court decision Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization.

Study Design
We downloaded the top 200 most liked, publicly available TikTok videos when searching “abortion” on September 26, 2022 and recorded and summarized key video characteristics. We then qualitatively analyzed for content, tone, and common themes.

Results
The top 200 most liked TikTok videos collectively had approximately 164 million likes, nearly 10 million shares, and 4 million comments. Most videos expressed support for abortion and presented information that was political or personal in nature. Only two videos contained health information about obtaining or completing an abortion, and only five videos featured or were created by a medical provider.

Conclusions
Findings reveal the far reach of TikTok, which underscores the importance of analyzing online sources of information about abortion. However, our mixed-methods analysis indicates that the most liked TikToks are a source of abortion news, political opinion, personal stories, and debate rather than a source of health information for abortion seekers.

Implications
Our analysis finds that the top 200 most liked TikTok videos three months post-Dobbs are primarily political in nature. Relatively few videos provided practical information about accessing abortion care, presenting an opportunity for healthcare providers, public health advocates, and activists to improve access and awareness of new pathways to care. The most popular TikTok videos appear to disseminate news and political information rather than health information about abortion.