Keeping our children safe online is one of the hardest things to do. It’s something I’m sure all parents struggle with. Tiktok is the latest platform to be in the news for child safety.
It’s never been harder to keep track of what your child is seeing, interacting with and who, and what content they are putting out there about themselves. Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube – they’ve all been in the news at one point or another for child safety issues.
TikTok is the latest to be in the news. They are being investigated by the ICO in the UK over how it handles the safety and data of underage users. Concerns have also been raised by Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, about the open messaging system. It allows any adult to message any child, potentially violating the general data protection regulations (GPDR).
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time TikTok has been in trouble over data privacy.
Back in February 2019 it was fined $5.7m by the US Federal Trade Commission after being accused of illegally collecting personal information from children under the age of 13. Whilst TikTok’s official target audience is aged 16 to 25, underage use of the app is inevitable.
On top of data privacy breaches, TikTok has also been at the centre of a recent BBC investigation. It reports that some of the younger users of the app have felt pressured into sending money to their favourite influencers. The report describes how TikTok influencers promise their fans shout outs, collaboration opportunities and follow backs. Some are going as far as offering their phone numbers in exchange for gifts. Gifts appear as on-screen animations and can cost anything from 5p to £48.99.
Brands should be extremely cautious about getting involved with platforms that don’t appear to value user safety, and with influencers who exploit younger users for financial gain.
Keeping the online world safe not only for children and young adults but all users is one aspect of that drives The Social Element’s teams to do what they do. It’s at the heart of why our CEO Tamara, set the business up nearly 15 years ago, and something we continue to campaign on.
For more info on whether your brand should be on TikTok, have a read through our Chief Services Officer’s article on the topic.