Dear HIFA and CHIFA colleagues,
Most of our discussion on misinformation and social media has centred on Twitter, but read on to see the harmful impact of another social media: TikTok.
TikTok pushes harmful content promoting eating disorders and self-harm into young users’ feeds
Deadly by Design – our new report – will help provide parents and policymakers insight into the TikTok content and algorithms shaping young lives today.
Two-thirds of American teenagers use TikTok, and the average viewer spends 80 minutes a day on the application.
The app, which is owned by the Chinese company, Bytedance, rapidly delivers a series of short videos to users and has overtaken Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube in the bid for young people’s hearts, minds, and screen time.
And yet most people understand very little about how TikTok works or the potential dangers of the platform...
For our study, Center for Countering Digital Hate researchers set up new accounts in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia at the minimum age TikTok allows, 13 years old. These accounts paused briefly on videos about body image and mental health, and liked them. What we found was deeply disturbing. Within 2.6 minutes, TikTok recommended suicide content. Within 8 minutes, TikTok served content related to eating disorders. Every 39 seconds, TikTok recommended videos about body image and mental health to teens.
The results are every parent’s nightmare: young people’s feeds are bombarded with harmful, harrowing content that can have a significant cumulative impact on their understanding of the world around them, and their physical and mental health...
Best wishes, Neil
Dr Neil Pakenham-Walsh, HIFA Coordinator
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