Social Media Management – TikTok

TikTok

TikTok is a social media platform which has gained massive popularity with tweens and younger teenagers despite a minimum age limit of 13. An OSA survey of Key Stage 3 pupils in 2022-2023 found that 56% of them used TikTok, putting it at higher usage levels than both Instagram and Snapchat.

TikTok is branded as a platform for sharing short videos, though users can now post videos up to ten minutes in length. The content of the videos commonly includes lip-syncing to music, dance routines, gaming clips, makeup and fashion and reactions of people to events / pranks.

TikTok: Areas of concern

School-based content

Many of the videos trending on TikTok involve children in British school uniforms and often seem to have been filmed on school premises. Wearing school uniform in videos can enable others to identify the location of a child. Videos may also not present your school in a way that you might want to be portrayed, with an impact on school reputation. To see what is trending on TikTok right now, please follow this link: https://www.tiktok.com/trending 

Abuse of school staff

In November 2021, the government raised the issue of abuse aimed at school staff by pupils through TikTok. Academies minister Baroness Barran said she was ‘deeply concerned by the abhorrent abuse’. A search for your school name on TikTok could unveil concerning videos aimed at your colleagues or yourself. These range from gentle mocking up to unfounded sexual misconduct allegations and homophobic slurs. Read More

Schools and staff to have contacted TikTok to have content removed have generally had very limited success. Even when accounts posting such inappropriate content have been sanctioned, this has generally merely involved a very temporary suspension.

Inappropriate content

In February 2021, the European Consumer Organisation filed an official complaint against TikTok for failing to protect children from inappropriate content. They found that ‘suggestive’ content is just a few scrolls away on TikTok.

It raised concerns of children being exposed to hidden advertising, often by encouraging users to take part in branded ‘hashtag challenges’ where they are encouraged to create and publish content for products. Read More

Inappropriate content

The TikTok algorithm has faced accusations of promoting misogynistic content towards male users for some time. A 2022 report by The Guardian revealed that watching videos targeting male audiences quickly resulted in users being “bombarded” with misogynistic content, including videos from the controversial figure Andrew Tate. Read More

Unfortunately, TikTok’s efforts to block such content appear to be inadequate. A report by The Independent in July 2023 highlighted that “TikTok’s own figures show that videos linked to the (Andrew) Tate hashtag have been viewed 75 million times in the UK in the past four months alone.” Read More

Privacy settings

Although new users are prompted to examine their initial privacy settings this is left as an optional activity which many users will decline. The default privacy settings on TikTok for new users aged 13-15 are ‘private’, though they can opt to change this to public. Accounts of new users age 16+ (or anybody who claims to be 16+) are public by default. Where accounts are public, anybody is able to view videos the user posts and to comment upon them.

Security concerns

TikTok has been banned in India and a number of countries around the world are considering following suit. Reasons cited for this include:

  • The platform requires access to more personal data than should be needed.
  • It raises concerns among cybersecurity experts through requests to access user location, audio and camera recordings, and contacts.
  • It is often argued that the Chinese government would have the right to access any data stored on TikTok (something they are denying).

Read More

Alongside fun, harmless viral challenges such as dance routines, TikTok is often used to spread dangerous challenges.

TikTok: Positive changes

  • – They are apparently trying hard to moderate content. They claim that in a six month period they removed almost fifty million videos for violating community guidelines or terms of service. Automated systems meant that 89% of these videos were reportedly taken down before anyone had the chance to view them. Read More
  • – They have launched a “Family Safety Mode,” designed to let parents set screen-time limits, limits on direct messages and a restricted mode that limits the appearance of inappropriate content. Read More
  • – Under-16s are no longer able to send or receive direct messages. It is the first time a major social-media platform has blocked private messaging by teenagers. This does require users to have entered their correct age though. Read More

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