Why TikTok is Terrifying?
A brief background and reasons why Tik Tok is a bad influence towards the youth.
You might have at least heard the app TikTok once. Perhaps you've come across a TikTok compilation on your recommended page on Youtube, maybe even though you don't have the slightest interest in it. One day, you decide to watch the news and there it is again, TikTok! Unfortunately, this article isn't about sunshines and butterflies, but yet to discover the ugly truths of TikTok and why the youth are affected by it.
What is TikTok?
Tiktok or in Chinese (抖音; Douyīn) is a video-sharing social networking service app owned by a Beijing-based company called ByteDance, which is founded in 2012 by Zhang Yiming. Just like the app Musical.ly, TikTok is used for creating lip-syncing videos along with short dance, comedy, and talent videos. In 2017, TikTok was launched for iOS and Android in markets outside of China. The application allows users to create short music and lip-sync videos of 3 to 15 seconds and short looping videos of 3 to 60 seconds. After merging with Musical.ly in August, downloads rose and TikTok became the First most downloaded Chinese app in the United States in October 2018. It was also the most-downloaded app of the App Store in 2018 and 2019.
TikTok allows users to create short videos that look like Instagram stories but with background music. The "react" feature allows users to film their reaction to a specific video whereas "duet" enables users to merge themselves alongside another user's video. Similar to other social media apps, TikTok lets users set their accounts to "private". Although an account user can block any other TikTok users from viewing their content, the content is still visible to the people managing the app. The "For You" page is a news feed page that recommends the latest hot videos to users. Only users aged 16 and above will be featured on the “For You” page as per TikTok policy.
User Characteristics and Statistics
TikTok has somehow proven to draw a countless number of people from Millennials to Centennials, altogether gaining 500 million active users. In the following years, the app successfully obtained 800 million active users, after founded in September 2016. 90% of these users admit they use the app regularly, which were 44% of female users and 56% male users. Besides gaining a large number of users in three years, so far, TikTok is the most downloaded app in the world. It surpassed the 1.5 billion downloads mark on the App Store and Google Play Store within a period of 12 months in the year 2019. Furthermore, the app is the third most installed non-gaming app of 2019, not to mention the first app which was not owned by Facebook.
People who own electronic gadgets are by any chance addicted to the Internet, especially social media. It is confirmed that TikTok users had spent an average of 52 minutes on the app only for a day! ByteDance has also confirmed that users in the United States open the app Eight times in 24 hours and occupied the longest of 4.9 minutes on their solitary periods. Unsurprisingly, the app boasts an “endless stream” of content as GlobalWedIndex had shown that 90% of TikTok users visit the app more than once per day. In conclusion, teenagers have a high chance of becoming addicted to watching TikTok videos for hours at a time.
Exposure to Inappropriate Content
Social media is brimming with content that soothes the tension of people on whatever they please. Sexual content circulating the Internet is not an eye-opener as long as it is preferred to one's liking. TikTok consists of lists of songs for users to lip-sync and dance, as long as the "For You" page overflow with users dancing as well as lip-syncing, endless streams of songs with non-identical themes. It is likely that older teens along with young adults publish mature subjects. However, the clips indeed will surface on the "For You" page in which teenagers are bound to watch. Aside from violent or sexual lyrics that might influence youngsters, complaints of ill-suited measures were reported. These examples include swearing, suggestive dancing, scantily clad exposure, not to mention nudity as well.
In recent years, cyberbullying has been a hazard sign for the mental health of youngsters. TikTok is the ideal platform to torment users, with teenage victims into the bargain. Reports of endemic cyberbullying have been addressed multiple times on TikTok. These bullies usually remark racist slangs, body-shaming, or harassing their victims. Over time, the "duet" feature had increasingly piled up with harassment, threats, and dreadful comments. Natalia, a user of TikTok, has spoken to BuzzFeed News that people made disturbing videos using the "duet" feature pretending to drink bleach, hang themselves, shoot themselves, and telling her to commit suicide when reacting to Natalia's TikToks. To this very day, cyberbullying on TikTok still exist and it had gone from bad to worse, even though TikTok may have finally dropped a "blunt" cyberbullying policy.
Influence of Clout chasers & Internet Trolls
Let's not forget the foul side of social media. After all, it is convenient for users to use it for expressing their emotions and criticism. TikTok had acquired recognition for its out of control use as a harassment tool. Seeing that internet trolls and clout chasers will perform any steps to gain attention, the app is a golden ticket to their presence due to its triumph. They normally lambaste on political affairs or people they detest, sometimes pulling out abominable stunts. Clout chaser Ava Louise is no exception during her Covid-19 scandal, by licking an airplane's toilet seat! Victimized by TikTok influencer Brittany Johnson, username @lovelypeaches, both stars Skai Jackson and Malu Trevejo had undergone indecent exposure on their Instagram live. Trolls along with chasers will have an impact on the mind of tweens and teens, mistaking wrongdoings and change of attitude is possible.
Challenges are extremely prominent on TikTok as the company promotes its challenges to users on the "For You" page. Therefore, reckless actions are not uncommon to the app. The penny challenge, which involves placing a penny between a charger and a wall plug, prompted firefighters worldwide to post warnings to teens on social media. Furthermore, the skull breaker challenge which requires two people kicking the legs from under a person to make them fall over has resulted in Us prosecutors charging two youngsters with aggravated assault over the TikTok and warned parents to stop to their children taking part in order to cease this challenge.
The Romanticization of Mental Illnesses
As the users of the apprise day by day, an escalation amount of content was released daily. These users possess dissimilar personalities that were mixed into one community, whether it has a positive or negative trait. On Tiktok, a certain quantity of Pro-ana (Pro-anorexia) videos was presented in the "For You" page glorifying of eating disorders. Some users would blatantly glorify mental health issues through specific hashtags or social media apps like Tumblr and Instagram by portraying them as something aesthetic or quirky on social media. Clips of people romanticizing and ridiculing on the behaviors of mental illnesses in spite of the app's ban warning. The concerning increase of teenagers suffering from mental disorders might usher them to grave pain if being highly exposed to videos misappropriating these issues without true factors.
TikTok's was accused of its poor and extreme censorship management. These accusations were in some way accurate because the content of promulgating pornography, inappropriate content, and blasphemy surfaced within the app. Sometime later, Muslim countries such as Indonesia and Bangladeshi announced their ban on the app. Indonesia's ban had forced TikTok to pledge by tasking 20 staff with censoring some of their content to lift the ban. Despite the 2018 scandal, TikTok announced that they are suppressing posts by unattractive, disabled, and poor people to attract new users. In which they publish the documents with the exact regulations on The Intercept. According to the following documents, TikTok stated that they will actively limit content posted by users who are deemed to be obese, unattractive, old, disabled, and Pro-LGBTQ+. Finally, during a recent scandal, TikTok decides to censor African-American Creators on the app when voicing about racism, which led to signing petitions for Black Influencers to terminate their punishments.
Although TikTok's motive is similar to other social media apps, more and more journalists started to open about the app's privacy concerns. Due to its popularity with the youth, it became a breeding ground for predators. The most famous incident was a former user by the name of Buddy Haynes, also known as @TheBudday on TikTok, who was known for sharing screenshots and recordings of his interactions with young teenage girls. A teenage female user named @cherrypopcosplays mentioned in an interview with BuzzFeed News that the conversation shifted to an inappropriate turn after she announced her age. By October 2018, Haynes was investigated by the local law enforcement and the FBI. However, the investigation was discontinued because of the lack of evidence. Soon after, Haynes was banned from TikTok.
The Solution to Prevention
How can we prevent teenagers to engage in these activities or individuals? Is there any way to avoid involving them in these parties? Does the app have any restrictions? Relax, don't get paranoid. Even though we can't dodge from all of the cons mentioned above, there are ways to evade pioneers to venture into schemes.
- As addiction is the prime concern when surfing into the social media world, TikTok designed a constraint to limit users from using it for long periods of time.
- Firstly, users need to press the three-button icon to enter "Privacy and Settings". Then, click "Digital Wellbeing" to start up by entering the "Turn On" switch. Lastly, users are required to type a 4 digit passcode to initiate.
- TikTok features cutbacks on averting harassment for users. The app's "Privacy and Safety" center permits users to disable the "Who Can React With Me" and "Who Can React With Me" features to incapacitate another user from reacting or doing duets with that particular user.
- On condition that users are available for other users to "react" or "duet" to some of their TikToks by adjusting their settings for duets or reacts when uploading or an already uploaded video.
- Furthermore, users are capable of deleting comments from different users through the process of tapping the comment and then tap "delete". Again, users can control who has the potential to remark on their videos by altering their privacy settings.
3. Influence of Clout Chasers & Internet Trolls
- TikTok's Community Guidelines as well as its Terms Of Service outline the conducting code they confine their users to. Therefore, it vetoes on whichever content that is sexually or violently exploits, prey, or jeopardize the youth sternly.
- The moderation team will take immediate action to remove content, close accounts, along with reporting cases to the NCMEC and law enforcement.
- Moreover, the team announced that they collaborate with third parties on a global level to restrain vulgar language in their engagement to identify together with abolishing hate speeches.
4. The Romanticization of Mental Illnesses
- TikTok surprisingly allows its users to restrict videos of their viewing. All you need to do is to click "Digital Wellbeing" and later press the "Turn On button". Next, users have to set a 4 digit password to activate the restriction.
- An automatic filter, "Restricted Mode" which is driven by its function, conceal content that might seem ill-suited. Messages are also either limited so the users only collected by their chosen friends or they are completely shut down.
- The app recommends users to reach out to a group of organizations dedicated to averting measures in the mental health crisis among teens such as suicide prevention and aiding people with eating disorders.
- Users can block someone by entering their username then tapping the icon to block them. The blocked user is incapable to interact with the following user.
- TikTok users also have the ability to set their accounts on private for them to approve or deny people following them. The posted content will be only visible to the accepted followers.
- The TikTok moderation team can review a user when they are reported because of inappropriate behavior or harassment. If the user violated TikTok's Community Guidelines, TikTok will step in to take action.
In recent times, TikTok is developing into a community fit for the youth and overall it is a fun app to use. Nonetheless, every aspect related to social media has its pros and cons. Therefore, users are ought to avoid the cons to prevent bearing the consequences as much as it is achievable. In addition, Internet users should make an attempt to chase down a path with the pros of it.