TikTok algorithm displays content of teens with eating disorders in minutes

TikTok is displayed on the smartphone

picture: Drew Angerer (Getty Images)

It can certainly not be a coincidence that “tick tock” has almost all the same letters like “poisonous.” I can feel my brain cells dying if I spend more than two minutes on professional time waster app. Of hot shirtless gays telling me who to vote for for punk rockers serving up Britney Spears conspiracies, it’s a wonder I even have the wherewithal to write this article.

However, I can only imagine how difficult it must be for today’s teenagers to which make up a quarter of TikToks overall Audience. Everyone’s teenage years are filled with awkwardness and insecurity, but only Gen Z had to spend those years Carry an unlimited supply of anxiety-provoking content right in your pocket. Case in point: A new study claims that TikTok’s algorithm “starts recommending content related to eating disorders and self-harm to 13-year-olds within 30 minutes of joining the platform.” The New York Times reports.

The research conducted by non-profit organizations Center for Countering Digital Hate, involved in setting up various TikTok accounts and impersonating a 13-year-old to see what the algorithm brings to teenagers. Despite the fact that Posts promoting “eating disorders” violate TikTok’s Community GuidelinesUsers who upload such content found ways to circumvent censorship by using encrypted hashtags like “#EdSheeranDisorder” (which doesn’t sound much better). But what particularly alarmed the researchers was how quickly the tone of the recommended content changed.

“You might notice a video of a bulging body in nice clothes, and the algorithm will very quickly recognize that you’re interested in a body image,” says one researcher told the Times. From there, TikTok started promoting content related to “juncorexia,a form of eating disorder. only this week 60 minutes even an interview with a 20 year old girl explaining that she started looking for workout routines on social media as a teenager and soon was led disturbed eating algorithmic recommendations.

Is in stark contrast to the Chinese version of TikTok. In China-HOmeland by TikTok’s parent company ByteDance—Children under 14 are limited to just 40 minutes Videos per day and the content is curated to be educationalPer CNN.

On American TikTok, also so-called Educational content is to be met with healthy scepticism Anyone can claim to be an authority on anything, and consequently influence public opinion on whether they are qualified to do so or not. In July e.g. a clip went viral when a “wellness” influencer and self-proclaimed “cosmic” claimed that “Lyme [disease] is a gift… to the deeply spiritual people of this planet.”

A social media platform is only as good as its ability to protect its most vulnerable users. parents when your children looking educational food-related content on the platform, stick things like that.

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