Saturday, 23 October 2021

TikTok videos take hold with teens but are they aware of the risks?

LONDON: Millions of teenagers seeking their 15 seconds of fame are flocking to TikTok, but many of their parents are only now learning about the express-yourself video app – often to their dismay.

The social network became the most downloaded on Apple’s App Store in the first half of this year according to market analysis firm Sensor Tower, beating out titans like Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.

The site, owned by China’s ByteDance, boasted 500 million users as of June following its purchase last year of Musical.ly, which greatly expanded its reach in the US.

Analysts say it filled the void left by Vine, which introduced countless numbers of teens to the creative possibilities of ultrashort videos but failed to find a sustainable business model.

“If there is one thing Silicon Valley can learn from Chinese app development, it’s that it is tuned in to viral-as-a-service, meaning that their most popular apps have really been about making content and personas viral and also hyper-engaged,” he said.

Yet critics say its surging popularity among young girls in particular exposes them to caustic comments and other potential abuse by their peers, while offering a choice hunting ground for sexual predators.

The app itself promises a video-sharing community that’s “raw, real and without boundaries” and claims to be appropriate for children aged 12 and older.

Parents aren’t always convinced, given the numbers of young girls suggestively singing along to sexually explicit lyrics which are often degrading to women.

Such videos are the stock in trade of Halia Beamer, an American 13-year-old who has emerged as one of TikTok’s stars, chalking up more than five million followers.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

Who do I look like??? Everyone. 😉 #tiktok @leticiafgomes

A post shared by TikTok (@tiktok) on


‘Dangerous characters’

Media reports have documented cases of users being bombarded with disturbing comments, while others have been asked for private contact details or to post provocative images.

Last summer the Indonesian government banned the app after more than 170,000 people signed a petition saying that lip-syncing in revealing outfits was not suitable for children.

It was lifted only after TikTok representatives from China flew to Jakarta and promised to hire more people to weed out inappropriate content.

The US internet watchdog Common Sense says the combination of mature content and privacy risks means users should be at least 16.

 

 

View this post on Instagram

 

@shaymitchell LOVES our Halloween filters! Check them out on TikTok. #getspooked #tiktok #halloween

A post shared by TikTok (@tiktok) on

Check Also

Cryptocurrencies tumble amid China crackdown

REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo TOKYO – Cryptocurrencies tumbled on Monday as China’s crackdown on bitcoin mining ...

Leave a Reply