Flora Ribeiro has brilliantly presented the TikTok application in her article published on the DMB MBA Shanghai Blog on December 22, 2022, in which she presents, among other things, the growth of the application, its features, functionalities or attractions for brands. Her article can be accessed via the following link https://dmb-shanghai.com/marketing/tiktok-le-social-media-du-moment-quelques-chiffres/
Nevertheless, she chose to mention only the positive points of the platform and not to dwell on the problems encountered by TikTok. Therefore, it seemed relevant to me to talk about the dark side of the application. Thus, today’s article aims to present some of the identified dangers of TikTok, to which solutions should be presented.
The early hypersexualization of our children
The hypersexualization of tweens on TikTok is a major issue. Although the application requires users to be at least 13 years old when they register, many users manage to bypass these restrictions and register on TikTok. The result becomes dramatic as many children find themselves exposed to inappropriate sexual content on the platform, which can lead to underage sexual behavior and harm their emotional and social development.
On the other hand, it has been possible to find sexual content involving minors on the application, which encourages pedophilia.
In addition, many children building their identity are constantly exposed to dream bodies, perfect figures or flawless faces thanks to the filters, which can lead to the creation of complexes related to their physical appearance.
In order to fight against this scourge, it is important that parents monitor their children’s use of TikTok and discuss with them the importance of online safety, respect for each other’s bodies and responsible use of platforms such as TikTok. Also, they should not hesitate to watch for signs of hypersexualization in their children and seek professional help if necessary.
The application does not escape the scourge of harassment as it is sometimes considered the “dumping ground for teenagers” who do not hesitate to use the platform to intimidate, humiliate, threaten or harass other users, which can have serious consequences on the mental health and well-being of these victims.
This cyberstalking can take many forms such as insults, malicious comments, personal attacks, threats, mockery or humiliating videos. As a result, victims can feel isolated and powerless in the face of these incessant online attacks, which are particularly difficult to avoid.
In order to fight against this growing phenomenon, it is essential that TikTok users report any cyberstalking behavior they experience or witness, using the reporting tools integrated into the platform. Parents of children also have a role to play in helping them understand the dangers of cyberbullying and not encouraging this type of behavior.
As for the application, it is in its interest to use artificial intelligence and recruit teams of moderators to monitor malicious content and comments in order to preserve the mental health and well-being of its users.
The presence of sexual predators
Like most social media platforms, many sexual predators operate on TikTok. They use the application to seek contact with minors and use manipulative techniques to obtain inappropriate personal information or images. These individuals do not hesitate to view content posted by children by leaving likes or comments and asking for more videos. They may even go beyond these steps and try to contact the teenager in question to obtain nude images, which are then posted on pedophile sites.
Parents can play an important role in protecting their children by teaching them to recognize the signs of predatory online behavior, such as requests for photos or personal information, offers of money or invitations to meet in person.
The fight against pedophiles is one of the major concerns of the platform, which works closely with many authorities to combat these sexual predators and to help identify and prosecute the perpetrators of these online crimes. However, this scourge can only be eradicated if users themselves, their parents and the platform decide to fight this problem together.
Misinformation and the spread of fake news are real problems on TikTok. Indeed, many users use the application as a place to share short, sometimes conspiratorial videos with misleading information or conspiracy theories.
This phenomenon can be devastating for society as a whole and especially for young people, who are more likely to believe anything found online and can have negative effects on public health, politics or society in general. This phenomenon occurred notably during the vaccination campaigns against Covid-19 when some users were spreading false information about vaccines on TikTok, and contributing to the spread of false information.
Since this wave of fake news, TikTok has put in place measures to fight against misinformation on its platform and has for example launched an awareness campaign to help its users identify misinformation and false information. Nevertheless, this problem is complex, difficult to solve and requires caution on the part of TikTok users, who would do well to carefully examine the sources and information they find on the platform, remembering that it is important to check the facts before sharing information with others.
To conclude, although TikTok is a very popular application, it is important to take into account the dangers it can present. The early hypersexualization of our children, misinformation or cyberbullying are all major phenomena to which the platform must take into account and provide answers.