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April 13, 2023
TikTok’s algorithms are reportedly promoting videos about self-harm and eating disorders to teen users, according to a Wednesday report from researchers at the nonprofit Center for Countering Digital Hate.
In their study, the researchers created TikTok accounts for fictional teen personas in the U.S., U.K., Canada and Australia. The researchers then “liked” videos about self-harm and eating disorders to see how TikTok’s algorithm would respond.
The researchers said that, almost instantly, the platform began recommending videos about losing weight and self-harm, including ones featuring pictures of models and idealized body types, images of razor blades and discussions of suicide, according to Fox News.
When the researchers created accounts with user names that suggested a particular vulnerability to eating disorders – names that included the words “lose weight” for example – the accounts were fed even more harmful content.
“It’s like being stuck in a hall of distorted mirrors where you’re constantly being told you’re ugly, you’re not good enough, maybe you should kill yourself,” said Imran Ahmed, the center’s CEO. “It is literally pumping the most dangerous possible messages to young people.”
A TikTok spokesperson responded to the report, questioning the validity of the findings, and said that the research “does not reflect genuine behavior or viewing experiences of real people.”
“We regularly consult with health experts, remove violations of our policies, and provide access to supportive resources for anyone in need. We’re mindful that triggering content is unique to each individual and remain focused on fostering a safe and comfortable space for everyone, including people who choose to share their recovery journeys or educate others on these important topics,” the spokesperson said, according to Fox.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: WINKNEWS.COM