• Hong Kong - Tik Tok app leaves Hong Kong for new Chinese National Security Law
  • Justicia.TikTok, fined for violating the privacy of minors

TikTok is one of the applications most used by young people around the world, which has generated a new stream of memes and problems alike. There is nothing wrong with your son uploading a video dancing for his friends to see and, in turn, they respond with jokes or their versions of the dances or funny memes. The problem is that everything may be public and there may be malicious people watching them and replying in turn to the videos.

Several organizations in defense of minors have shouted in the sky, even calling for the banning of TikTok in the United Kingdom, due to the exposure to sexual predators and pedophiles caused by the service.

An investigation carried out by the newspaper The Telegraph has revealed that not only are there profiles of adults who interact and observe the activity of minors , but when those responsible for the application, ByteDance, discovered their activity, they only closed their accounts for a week, being able to quickly return to your previous activity.

A social network mainly for children

In its terms of use, TikTok only allows users over the age of 13 to create an account on its service, but as is usual in this and other social networks or Internet applications, checking the age of the user is practically impossible and lying about The age to create accounts is the norm . Thus, around 70% of users are between 13 and 24 years old.

From TikTok they assure that they have implemented several measures to avoid these circumstances: children under 16 have private messages closed, parents can link their accounts with those of their children to monitor them more closely and have updated their moderation tools and content removal. And in an exercise in transparency, they annually publish reports of what content they have censored.

But the history of TikTok with the protection of data , minors or other users, is not good. They were convicted in 2019 of illicitly storing data from minors (including minors under the age of 13) on their servers. Therefore, the US Trade Federation sentenced them to pay a record fine of more than 5 million euros. They have also suffered significant security breaches, one of which allowed viewing private content of other users.

And despite the measures taken, every so often there are cases of 'memes' or 'virals' that, despite being born innocently, end up in the hands of users who make them dangerous . The last one, the so-called 'daddy POV', which translated into Spanish, literally means 'daddy's point of view' and which is a variation of the 'boyfriend POV', or 'boyfriend's point of view' in Spanish.

In this viral, users feign a father and son or daughter relationship with a background song, all in order to make jokes or awkward situations, sometimes risque. It started small, but soon the great influencers of TikTok made their versions and, in a short time, this has resulted in adults using videos of children to launch clearly sexual overtones . The author of the song used, which is titled 'Dissolve', has come out publicly to ask users to stop using his music because he has received "several messages from people calling attention to the disturbing" of these virals.

The proliferation of these situations has even led to the appearance of 'vigilantes' , accounts that confront these adults who are looking for children's content to undertake the justification by their hand. In Australia, last March TikTok closed the account of a user who was dedicated to persecuting these alleged pedophiles , with whom he tried to stay in person posing as a child on the social network, for violating the code of conduct of the social network.

To escape scrutiny, many pedophiles use terms like 'MAP', which stands for 'Minor attracted person' in English, or 'person who is attracted to minors' in Spanish on social media. Under this denomination, many pedophiles try to spread a message in favor of pedophilia and have even gone so far as to promote 'MAP pride' in order to somehow equate their illegal behavior and their demands to the different sexual orientations protected under the term LGTBI +.

The predatory behavior of pedophiles on TikTok is not far from the activity on other social networks , from Facebook to Instagram, via Twitter or directly through apps to link like Tinder or Grindr. In 2019 alone, pedophile incidents grew 30% on Instagram.

In the same way that social networks fail to stop hoaxes or selective harassment, they do not exercise sufficient control over sexual messages directed at minors despite the flagrant violation of their terms of use. Thus, according to a study published in 2019 by the IWF (Internet Watch Foundation), more than half of pedophile material on the Internet can be found in the open.

Its Chinese origin, also in controversy

TikTok also faces rejection from governments around the world given its origin: China. It is an app created by ByteDance, a company of Chinese origin, and the governments of the US, Hong Kong, Pakistan and India have taken measures to prevent its use in their territories for fear that user information ends up in the hands of the Chinese government.

From TikTok, they categorically deny any unlawful link or transfer of data to the Chinese government, but since the parent company operates from there, the current legislation obliges them on paper to allow the authorities access to its users. "There is no truth in the allegations that the Chinese state has access to TikTok users," chief marketing officer for Europe Theo Bertam recently said.

Whether or not they yield information to the Communist government, the truth is that in Chinese territory, they have taken measures aligned with Chinese national interests. For example, they blocked the profile of a Chinese user who denounced the abuse and torture that state forces exercised on the Muslim community. According to TikTok, the profile would have been suspended for making a joke about Bin Laden.

The situation of TikTok is reminiscent of that of Huawei, whose products can no longer use certain parts or software produced in the United States as a result of the veto promoted by the Trump administration. Since mid-2019, his new mobiles cannot carry the Android operating system, which has taken its toll on his business outside China.

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