Young fans of video sharing app TikTok exploited for digital gifts

Wednesday 3 July 2019 11:58 CET | News

TikTok, a video-sharing app, has apologised that some children and other young people have felt pressured into sending money to their favourite influencers on the app.

TikTok is a fast-growing social media app, with about 500 million regular users, although the company doesnt disclose its user base. The app lets people post 15-second videos. It is known for clips of teenagers lip-syncing and dancing to the latest trending music.

The TikTok app is most popular with 16- to 24-year-olds but there is evidence that many users are under 13, which is against the app’s rules, according to BBC.

The app lets fans send their favourite videomakers “digital gifts”, which can cost up to GBP 48.99. Videomakers with more than 1,000 followers are allowed to broadcast live on the platform. It is during these live streams that fans can send digital gifts to show their appreciation.

A BBC investigation found influencers promising to share their phone numbers with fans in exchange for the gifts. For instance, Claire (not her real name) told BBC News she sent TikTok star Sebastian Moy a GBP 48.99 “drama queen” gift to show her appreciation for his videos. Later, he had asked for another “gift” in exchange for his personal phone number, and Claire paid. The US-based video-maker, Sebastian Moy, has 3.8 million fans on TikTok and has not broken any of the apps rules.

Bytedance, the Chinese company that owns TikTok, has already been fined USD 5.7 million by a US regulator after being accused of collecting under-13s’ personal details without their parents’ consent. At the beginning of July 2019, the UK’s Information Commissioner revealed they had also launched an inquiry into whether the app was doing enough to safeguard its youngest users.

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Keywords: TikTok, video sharing, digital gifts, fraud prevention, safeguarding, UK
Countries: World

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