It’s a fact: China’s platform, TikTok, is a social media channel many young ladies between 13-24 engage with every day. In a short period, it has amassed more than 500 million worldwide users.
TikTok allows users to create short, entertaining videos. What draws young girls to the platform? It may be that many of their friends are also on it. It’s entertaining to make lip-syncing and dancing videos they share with their fans. The personalized “For You” page keeps them returning as well.
However, much like other platforms, it’s riddled with privacy holes. Of particular concern is the trolling of pedophiles and predators on this site.
- In February 2019, TikTok received a $5.7 million fine from the Federal Trade Commission for illegally collecting personal information from children under the age of 13 years old and selling it to advertisers.
- It’s becoming the tool of choice for bullying among young girls.
- Many male predators use this channel to communicate with young girls.
- When users or their parents reported predator accounts, in most instances, TikTok did not suspend those accounts.
- Even if you make your child’s account private, their profile picture, username, and bio remain public.
After the US government levied the fine, TikTok made some changes. In my opinion, it has not gone far enough. Here’s what they did.
TikTok New Safety Features to Guard against Predators
With the newest version of TikTok comes a parental control safety feature. Parents will download the app and sync it to their children’s app. Then they can:
- See what their children are viewing
- Set a maximum daily screen time
- Intercept messages and
- Restrict followers
The intent is to let parents have ultimate control of their children’s accounts to keep potentially harmful content from their child’s view.
One Expert’s Conclusion
“TikTok is not a safe app, and there are many concerns, not the least bullying and grooming by predators. Any app that allows communication can be used by predators,” stated Susan McLean, a cyber safety specialist.
She went on to say, “TikTok does not have the same safety sessions as some of the more well-known apps and routinely does not remove accounts that have been flagged.”
My Take on TikTok and Other Social Platforms
Even with their new safety initiatives, I still believe TikTok is a risky platform for girls under 18 years of age for three reasons: 1) Even with the latest safety regulations, there still isn’t enough corporate oversight 2) It can be a bullying platform and 3) In the age of Human Trafficking, pedophiles use it to recruit young girls.
Until TikTok does more, I’d recommend banning the app from your child’s phone. Also, it’s always wise to have access to other social apps they may use to communicate with their peers to ensure they are not bullying others or being bullied themselves.
For more information about ways I might be able to help your organization or group, please check out my Social Media training page.