TikTok warn teens about dangerous viral challenges
The popular video sharing platform alert users whenever they search known harmful challenges, such as the life-threatening blackout challenge.
In a drive to get kids thinking critically for themselves, advice on how to recognise harmful challenges and hoaxes will now appear instead of a blank page for banned searches.
Speaking exclusively to The Sun, Alexandra Evans, Head of Safety Public Policy for Europe at TikTok, said: “Now, if you’re a teenager and you’ve read about a challenge online, or you’ve been talking to your friends about it and you’re curiously searching.
“Of course we still don’t return the results but now you get to see the stop, the think, the decide and the act.
“Our community guidelines are really crystal clear that we don’t allow dangerous online challenges on the platform.”
But with an ever-growing number of trends emerging, the issue is hard for TikTok to keep up on.
One of the latest trends doing the rounds is illegal tanning nasal sprays.
These can contain a drug called melanota that is untested in the UK and whose users claim it darkens the skin after just a few jabs or sprays. It is illegal to use and sell in the UK as it has not been cleared by the Government’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
TikTok’s guidelines do not allow the depiction, promotion, or trade of controlled substances, including unlicensed drugs like Melanotan.
“We’re always working on enhancing our ability to detect [trends] as early as possible and hit them really quickly before they get visibility on our platform and making those decisions,” Ms Evans said.
TikTok’s latest effort builds on plans unveiled in November, when it launched a hub for online challenges support.
It comes as the platform recently beefed up its rules, particularly targeting any clips that glorify eating disorders and dangerous viral challenges.
This includes short-term fasting and overexercising which are considered “under-recognised signs of a potential problem”.
Tech giants have been under increased scrutiny over the content they allow on their sites. Pressure is mounting on firms, with plans for new laws in the UK that make them more responsible for what they host.