TikTok is facing probe in the UK for being a “magnet for pedophiles.
The hit social media app is feared to be a platform where predatory adults can freely send sexual messages to little children, according to UK’s Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.
Denham, who’s launched a probe into the matter, has asked tech companies to strengthen their mechanisms for protecting children because kids “aren’t alright” online.
According to reports from various media outlets, kids across the country have been receiving sexually suggestive comments on their videos of innocently dancing or singing to their beloved tunes.
Parents are fearful to see their kids getting targeted by predators on the app, which boasts more than 500 million users around the world.
“We are investigating a company named TikTok,” Denham said.
“We are looking at the transparency tools for children, the messaging system, the kind of videos collected and shared by children online.”
Denham’s stark warning to parliamentarians came after child activists raised the alarm over the social media app, which lets anyone post clips of themselves dancing to music.
“There’s no question an app like this is a magnet for pedophiles,” John Carr, a leading expert on child online safety, warned of the app.
The social media app has previously been fined a whopping $5.4 million for collecting information of kids – their names, email IDs, and locations – in the US.
Speaking to the MPs, Denham said that tech companies aren’t doing enough to protect children on the internet.
“We know that the internet, games, websites and social media companies were not designed with kids in mind, and yet 20 per cent of the users of the internet in the UK are children,” she said.
“And the kids are not alright. We need to focus on the kids.”
A spokesman for TikTok said: “We cooperate with organizations such as the ICO to provide relevant information about our product to support their work.
“Ensuring data protection principles are upheld is a top priority for TikTok.”
If a company is found guilty of the user safety breaches, the ICO can impose on it a fine of up to four per cent of its global turnover.
“The Information Commissioner’s investigation into TikTok, and whether its site design puts children at risk of grooming and abuse, is significant,” Andy Burrows of the NSPCC said.
“Social networks have made little progress in protecting children on their platforms so it is imperative that the new Prime Minister makes this a priority and the Government now works swiftly to build on its bold and ambitious proposals and brings in legislation that will make the UK the safest place for children to be online.
“Recent research also showed us that nine out of ten children and parents also agree tech firms should have legal responsibility to keep young users safe.”