According to a recent study, TikTok may expose teenagers to potentially dangerous content about eating disorders and suicide minutes after they create an account. This finding certainly adds to the rising concern about the app’s effects on its youngest users.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH), a non-profit organisation, revealed that it can take as little as three minutes after creating an account on TikTok to uncover content related to suicide and around five more minutes to find a community advocating content related to eating disorders.
At TikTok’s minimum user age of 13, the researchers claimed to have created eight new accounts in the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia. These accounts temporarily paused and liked articles about mental health and body image.
Within a 30-minute period, the CCDH reported that the app recommended films about body image and mental health around every 39 seconds.
The research is released at a time when local, state, and federal lawmakers of United states of America are looking for methods to penalise TikTok for privacy and security violations as well as deciding if the app is suitable for teenagers.
It also comes after more than a year of tough questions from lawmakers about how social media platform executives, including TikTok, can steer younger users – particularly teenage girls – to hazardous content, harming their mental health and body image, during a series of congressional hearings.
“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,” Imran Ahmed, CEO of the CCDH, said in the report.
The study, according to a TikTok spokesman, is inaccurately representing the viewing experience on the platform for a number of reasons, including the tiny sample size, the 30-minute testing session, and the way the accounts browsed over a number of unrelated topics in search of other material.