Before I’m going any additional, let’s get one factor out of the best way: If you’re studying this, you might be virtually definitely too outdated to really feel at residence on TikTok. The firm declined to present details about its customers, however judging from what’s on the platform, the median TikTok person appears to hover within the midteens. TikTok is stuffed with acne-studded faces, barely hid tween angst and impenetrable youth-culture references. As far as I can inform, there isn’t a method for adults to use it with out feeling as if they’re chaperoning a highschool dance.
Officially, TikTok customers should be 13 or older to be a part of. But the age-verification course of is simple to circumvent, and whereas shopping the platform, I stumbled upon a number of movies starring individuals who appeared to be a lot youthful. In its earlier incarnation as Musical.ly, TikTok drew hearth from some privateness advocates, who accused it of pushing the boundaries of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, a regulation that prohibits the gathering of sure varieties of data from customers youthful than 13.
“It’s clearly a really popular, cool site, but you also have the issue of kids being significantly too young for it,” stated James P. Steyer, the chief govt of Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that critiques tech merchandise for households. “It’s not that the content on TikTok isn’t O.K. for your 15-year-old. It’s what happens to your 6- or 7-year-old.”
While utilizing TikTok, I by no means noticed examples of bullying or harassment. (Both of that are prohibited by TikTok’s group tips, as is sexually specific content material.) There are, nonetheless, a first rate variety of movies that includes teenage ladies dancing suggestively — which, in case you are a 31-year-old newspaper columnist and never a 16-year-old boy, is pretty unsettling.
A TikTok spokeswoman stated in a assertion that selling security and positivity on the platform is “our top priority.” She added, “we periodically add to and adjust our protective measures, policies and moderation efforts to support the well-being of our users.”
Last yr, after two different apps owned by ByteDance have been criticized by Chinese officers for selling objectionable content material, the corporate’s chief govt, Zhang Yiming, stated that it might enhance the ranks of its content material moderation workforce to 10,000 moderators, from 6,000. The TikTok spokeswoman declined to say what number of of these moderators work for TikTok, or whether or not content material requirements for American customers differ from these for customers in China, the place famously strict censorship legal guidelines apply.
Free-speech advocates may bristle at TikTok’s Chinese possession, and privateness hawks have raised questions on how the corporate handles customers’ private knowledge. But maybe as a result of it’s extra closely moderated than different networks, TikTok largely feels protected and healthful. Julia Alexander, a fellow TikTok convert at The Verge, referred to as it “a rare social app that isn’t infested with hateful rhetoric.”
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