How TikTok’s algorithm ‘exploits the vulnerability’ of children

Up to 1.4m children under 13 use app, watchdog finds – and experts say they are being flooded with harmful content to promote addiction
Tuesday - 04/04/2023 19:48 Author: Editors Desk Source: The Guardian
Photograph: Robin Utrecht/Rex/Shutterstock
Photograph: Robin Utrecht/Rex/Shutterstock

It is the home of dance tutorial videos and viral comedy sketches. But it is also host to self-harm and eating disorder content, with an algorithm that has been called the “crack cocaine of social media”.

Now, the information commissioner has concluded that up to 1.4 million children under the age of 13 have been allowed access to TikTok, with the watchdog accusing the Chinese firm of not doing enough to check underage children were not using the app.

“There is self-harm content, there is nonsensical content about cures for mental health [conditions],” said Imran Ahmed of the Center for Countering Digital Hate, which produced a report last December that suggested TikTok’s algorithm was pushing harmful content to some users within minutes of their signing up.

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