There have been an increasing amount of calls for the U.S. government to ban the social media app TikTok over revelations that the Chinese government is using it to spy on American and influence children negatively, but you may not know exactly how dangerous the platform is when it comes to America’s most easily influenced individuals.
TikTok is directly owned by CCP company ByteDance and has more than a billion users. China is a hostile foreign country that is using TikTok to get U.S. teens to participate in trends that are dangerous and life-threatening while simultaneously pushing anti-American propaganda.
The FDA has been forced to step in and offer warnings about ridiculous TikTok challenges like one involving the use of Nyquil for teens to cook chicken.
Another challenge on the Chinese tech platform urged users to take large doses of the allergy medication Benadryl (diphenhydramine) to induce hallucinations. This trend led to countless teens being rushed to the hospital and some of them passed away as a result of it.
School officials have also spoken out against one challenge dubbed the “bathroom challenge” which popularized and promoted vandalizing school restrooms while a separate challenge encouraged students vandalize trophy cases, hallways, and classrooms, and steal fire extinguishers, school signs, and other property.
The app incentivizes this type of foolish behavior by making users go viral for following the dangerous trends being promoted.
The platform also promotes the sexualization of underage children by making it easier to go viral if the teens are posting overly sexualized videos.
The Chinese company seemingly tailors its algorithms to have different impacts on different communities – indicating they are strategically leveraging the tech platform to wreak havoc and cause division across different subsets of the population. For example, a lawsuit filed in July alleges that TikTok pushes especially violent content on black teenagers.
One study even found that within minutes of new users joining the platform, TikTok is already suggesting them harmful content, including glorifying things like self-harm and eating disorders.
The Center for Countering Digital Hate (CCDH) conducted the study by having researchers create TikTok accounts posing as 13-year-olds interested in body image and mental health content.
Within just 2.6 minutes of joining the app, TikTok’s algorithms were pushing suicidal content and within 8 minutes the eating disorder content began showing up.
The researchers also discovered that 56 TikTok hashtags hosting eating disorder videos had north of 13.2 billion views.
James P. Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media pointed to the study as further proof that action needs to be taken against TikTok.
Steyer said, “TikTok’s algorithm is bombarding teens with harmful content that promote suicide, eating disorders, and body image issues that is fueling the teens’ mental health crisis.”