Global social media platform TikTok has more than 1.1 billion users, ⅓ of which are underage, and it’s commonly considered the most popular social platform for kids and teens. Unlike other social platforms, where users choose what people, accounts, or hashtags to follow, TikTok uses an opaque algorithm to recommend content to their “For You” page. This gives both kids and parents less control over what content children see on TikTok.
Parents should know that recent research from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue (ISD) found harmful and inappropriate content easily accessible to kids on TikTok, including videos supporting white supremacy, holocaust denial, anti-Semitism, and terrorism. This violent content exists beside dangerous viral “TikTok challenges” which instruct young users to choke themselves, play with electricity, set things on fire, and more. Some content of particular concern for parents includes:
- Racist content is endemic — ISD identified hundreds of videos promoting white supremacy, expressing support for extremists or terrorists, and embracing Holocaust denial.
- TikTok hosts easily discoverable footage related to the 2019 Christchurch terrorist attack and ISIS footage.
- Content creators promoting hate and extremism are successfully using TikTok’s internal tools to show more people their content.
- TikTok hate speech creators avoid takedowns with simple tactics.
TikTok is the most used platform for children, with the average child using it for 105 minutes per day. The combination of extremist and dangerous content, young child and teen users, and a total lack of transparency for parents creates a unique threat to kids on TikTok.
In the past weeks, thousands of parents have signed petitions calling on TikTok to stop pushing hate content and allow parents to see exactly what TikTok is showing their children through “mirror accounts.” These accounts would allow parents to intervene and talk to their children about violent, dangerous, or inappropriate content they see.
ParentsTogether is concerned that absent significant changes from the platform, TikTok will continue to expose kids to harmful content, including hate speech, incitements of violence, and dangerous challenges that put them at risk.