Monday, June 24, 2019

"The same mechanics that have turned TikTok into this year’s fastest-growing social media app have brought with them a dark side: sexual predation"

Buzzfeed:

One of the most popular kinds of videos from TikTok’s users, who are mostly young and female, are lip-synch videos, where they dance and sing along with their favorite songs. These performances are sometimes sexualized by older men who lurk on the app, sending the young creators explicit messages and, in some cases, remixing the videos and dancing along with them via a TikTok feature called “duet.”

And the platform doesn’t just overlook this kind of conduct, like YouTube — its core mechanics inadvertently facilitate it. Like all social media platforms, TikTok is optimized for engagement, algorithmically steering users to content via a “For You" page that works like if Facebook’s News Feed were curated like Netflix’s landing page. It learns what you like and shows you more and more of it. It also reacts in real time, delivering an endless stream of similar videos, even if you aren’t logged in.

“If some creepy guy just keeps liking videos of younger girls doing similar audios or soundtracks or hashtags, those are going to keep coming up on his ‘For You’ page,” said an 18-year-old user named Liz W., who goes by @bithoeji on the app and spoke on the condition her full last name not be used. “So it's easier for him to find more victims. And I think that's what makes it so easy for predators to come on it and victimize young children.”

...

To fight this, a DIY effort to police TikTok has emerged, with the women at the heart of the DIY effort collecting allegations and evidence of sexual misconduct, blasting it out across YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, bagging and tagging the older men trying to prey on them.