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Dangerous DIY Baby Formula Recipes Go Viral as Parents Get Desperate

Consumers are getting bad advice as they look for answers in Facebook groups, and from wellness influencers on TikTok, YouTube and Instagram

Nearly empty shelves in the baby formula aisle of a grocery store in Detroit, Michigan, on May 19.

Nearly empty shelves in the baby formula aisle of a grocery store in Detroit, Michigan, on May 19.

Photographer: Matthew Hatcher/Bloomberg

As a nationwide baby formula shortage sends parents into crisis mode, social media posts containing dangerous misinformation about homemade formula recipes have gone viral online, racking up views in the millions. Although major networks like Facebook, TikTok and YouTube have taken steps to label photos, videos and posts with contextual information pointing to the harms of such recipes, and in some cases removed them, they have done so inconsistently, allowing the advice to continue spreading and putting children at risk.

“Platforms still haven’t learned the lesson that their obsession with engagement is leading them to recommend wildly unsafe content,” said Laura Edelson, a computer scientist studying misinformation at New York University. “The fact that they still have not fixed this issue after years of very clear evidence that their algorithms are promoting dangerous content is shocking.”