Tik Tok being used to spread false information about rape studies


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Brooke Kruger, Opinion Writer

A recent tik tok posted by a content creator spoke about her interpretation of a rape study conducted at the University of North Dakota. The tik tok user claimed that one-third of men on the UND campus would rape or force a woman into sexual intercourse if they knew they wouldn’t get caught or suffer consequences. The Tik Tok has quickly spread amongst the student body and has reached viral status on the social media platform, leading students to question the safety of the campus.  

This particular study was conducted in 2014, led by Sarah Edwards of the University of North Dakota’s Department of Counseling Psychology and Community Services. According to their peer-reviewed article, featured in Violence and Gender, Edwards and her team’s goals were to study self-identification labels and the misconstrued definition of rape. 86 male college students provided their consent to participate in their study and received extra credit upon completion. Results after questioning showed that 31.7% of participants would force a woman into sexual intercourse, but when asked if they would rape a woman, only 13% answered yes. The participants that answered yes to force and no to rape clearly have inaccurate views about the definition of rape and are blind to the fact that these two questions are synonymous.  

The confusion relates to wordplay and labeling. The participants that believed it was acceptable to force a woman into sexual intercourse wouldn’t label themselves as a rapist simply because “rape” is not included in the description. This leads these participants to associate themselves more positively with a broad description, rather than a harsh label. Edwards explains that “we need to be aware there is this group of men who do not consider their own actions to be rape, although they would qualify for any legal definition of sexual assault or rape. We need to find a way to talk with these men, to engage them in our prevention efforts, so we can actually challenge their faulty assumptions and attitudes and beliefs around women and sexuality and respectful relationships and what it means to get consent”.  

Aside from the terrifying results of the survey, the unnamed Tik Tok creator was not the only one to mistakenly blame the University of North Dakota for harboring the study participants. Numerous articles were written in Grand Forks and surrounding areas that assumed Edwards and her team derived their study sample from UND. The introduction of Tik Tok into the social media world has resurfaced the articles. Although Edwards would not specify which university their sample was from, they made it clear that the participants were not UND students.  

As the Tik Tok video circulates through campus, the false information in the clip must be pointed out. Individuals on campus have been triggered by the results of the survey and have become even more terrified by the assumed location of the participants. Although, as Edwards describes, this study could be a representation of student bodies on campus anywhere, UND is receiving negative publicity for the situation. Social media users need to be reminded to do complete and honest fact-checking before sharing triggering information on their respective platforms.  


Brooke Kruger is a Dakota Student Opinion Writer. She can be reached at [email protected]