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Fears Raised Over TikTok Eating Disorder Exposure

Teenagers may be exposed to potentially dangerous content about eating disorders on TikTok minutes after creating an account.

Image courtesy: Flickr

The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) has stated in a report that it can take less than five minutes after creating an account on TikTok to see information connected to a community that promotes eating disorders. This situation is said to pose many threats, especially to teenagers.
TikTok users have been sharing their worries regarding how vulnerable teenagers could react to TikTok’s content. Kofi Agyemang, a TikTok user, expressed worry over the potentially harmful content on the app and declared the need for the app to be regulated: “Contents such as eating disorder content on TikTok should be regulated to prevent teenagers from indirectly learning from it because they are more curious to try new things, which then influences them negatively.”

Naa Ayiku, a fellow user, echoed this sentiment, stating: “Teenagers and children are not mature enough to make good or bad decisions for themselves. They easily get addicted to things.”
Ayiku also proposed recommendations to combat addiction, saying: “TikTok should introduce a time frame on the app where it closes or shuts down for some time after continuous use.”

Josh Golin, executive director of Fairplay, asserted that it’s a particular problem for teens and children, who tend to spend more time online and are more vulnerable to bullying, peer pressure, or negative content about eating disorders or suicide.

Imram Ahmed, the CEO of CCDH, echoed that self-regulation has failed, as evidenced by the sheer volume of hazardous content being fed to teenagers on TikTok. Ahmed also stressed that federal rules are needed to force platforms to do more to protect children.

These reports come as local, state, and federal lawmakers try to figure out how to deal with TikTok's privacy and security issues, as well as the app’s suitability for teenagers.

However, a spokesperson from TikTok indicated that the company forbids users under the age of thirteen, and its explicit regulations forbid contents that promote eating disorders or suicide.

TikTok users in some parts of its jurisdiction who look for content regarding eating disorders are presented with a pop-up that provides links to mental health websites and the National Eating Disorder Association's contact details.

Despite TikTok’s attempts, CCDH discovered that TikTok had received billions of views for media content about eating disorders. In some cases, young TikTok users were using coded language about eating disorders in an effort to evade TikTok’s content moderation.


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