Playbuzz: Making Fun of Mental Illness & Bipolar
Playbuzz, the self-proclaimed “#1 shared Publisher on Facebook,” apparently thinks making fun of mental illness is perfectly a-okay by them. They have a quiz called “How Bipolar Are You” that’s generated over 4,600 comments on Facebook. The “fun” quiz actually doesn’t review the diagnostic criteria for bipolar disorder. Instead, it offers a mish-mash of pop psychology and random questions that have absolutely nothing to do with bipolar. Then it provides everybody with the same answer, no matter what their responses.
The site just closed on a $16 million funding round, and has over $19 million in total venture capital funding from VC companies that include 83 North, Saban Capital, Carmel Ventures and FirstTime Ventures. These venture capital companies fund Playbuzz’s apparent enjoyment of mocking people with mental illness.
Worse yet, Playbuzz — whose partners include AOL, The Telegraph, Martha Stewart, and Bravo — doesn’t seem to care this isn’t even a real quiz in any normal sense of the word. No matter what answers you provide, you will always receive this exact same canned, diagnostic response:
So just to be clear, even the one service Playbuzz pretends to be offering users — “fun quizzes!” — is a lie in this case. Because everyone who takes this quiz is “100% Bipolar” and given the same diagnosis.
You can say you’re not making a diagnosis1 but it kind of looks like you are when you tell people they are “restless, agitated” and “find it hard to concentrate” and actually tell people they are “100% Bipolar” (which is an, umm, actual diagnostic label).
Why are you asking people to take your fake quiz in the first place? How is it “fun” to make fun of people who carry the mental illness diagnosis of bipolar disorder? How else do you explain some of these “fun” questions?
- How often do you wish you were an animal?
- Can you find the 2 girls in the above football pattern? (under the display of a soccer ball pattern)
- In your opinion, which of the four creatures is the most intimidating? (under display of four drawn monsters)
- Can you predict the future?
I thought making fun of people with a mental illness went out of style decades ago. Apparently not for Playbuzz.
One member of our community reached out to the Playbuzz team for comment (as did we, but we didn’t hear back from them before this story was published). This is how they replied:
Omer Geffen (Playbuzz)
May 18, 13:39
Thank you for reaching out. We apologize if you found this quiz offensive in any way. Popularizing psychological terms is a common thing online, keeping that in mind and also being that Playbuzz is a playful content website, we do not profess on analyzing a person’s true mental health state. Just providing people with the opportunity to self reflect.
We appreciate your feedback and the fact you took the time to write to us.
Translation: “Hey, making fun of mental illness is just a “thing” online, and we’re a playful content website, so it’s okay for us to do!”
Wow. Just wow.
If this is the kind of content that Playbuzz is proud to feature, then we’re sorry for its partners (AOL, really?!) and its investors. Because this is exactly the kind of thoughtless, juvenile content most publishers would be ashamed and embarrassed to offer.
Especially during Mental Health Awareness Month. Not only is it in poor taste, it clearly demonstrates that Playbuzz and its CEO Shaul Olmert don’t seem to understand or care about the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness. And apparently don’t have a clue as to how this sort of “fun” quiz can actually be harmful and stigmatizing to the millions of people who suffer daily with bipolar disorder.
Editor’s note: Within 90 minutes of publication of this blog post, the Playbuzz quiz, “How Bipolar Are You?” was taken down from their website, with no explanation. The question you now have to ask — after 4,600 comments on Facebook (much of them negative) — and the quiz being online for over 6 weeks, why did it take so long and so much effort before Playbuzz editors understood the harm they were causing by keeping this quiz online?
In short, it now leaves us wondering — does Playbuzz have any editorial standards at all for its content?
We can answer the question by simply looking at their other “fun” mental disorder quizzes, all of which are equally as appalling and offensive to those with mental illness:
http://www.playbuzz.com/gregs/what-mental-disorder-do-you-kind-of-have (provides actual diagnoses, without any kind of disclaimers)
http://www.playbuzz.com/alexis13/what-kind-of-disorder-do-you-have (again, offers a mental illness diagnosis at the end, with no disclaimers)
http://www.playbuzz.com/logancarter11/do-you-have-add (diagnosing ADHD with invalid and unscientific questions, offers diagnosis at the end with no disclaimers)
For Further Reading
You can actually take a real, scientifically-valid self-assessment for bipolar disorder. We offer two such measures here:
Bipolar Screening Test based upon the DSM-5 diagnostic criteria
Bipolar Screening Quiz, our older bipolar screening measure
We refuse to link to this quiz from here, but here’s the offending URL: http://www.playbuzz.com/terryfriday10/how-bipolar-are-you
- As they do at the start of the quiz with this sole disclaimer: “**Results are not scientifically based and are by no means to be viewed as an official medical diagnosis**.” [↩]
Grohol, J. (2018). Playbuzz: Making Fun of Mental Illness & Bipolar. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 13, 2020, from https://psychcentral.com/blog/playbuzz-making-fun-of-mental-illness-bipolar/