TikTok is looking to strengthen detection and rule enforcement against dangerous online challenges and hoaxes.
Just over one in five teenagers took part in an online challenge, suggests a survey commissioned by TikTok.
But only one in 50 took part in a “risky and dangerous” one – and fewer than one in 300 in a “really dangerous” one.
The survey looked at teens’ extensive online experience, without focusing on one platform.
There has been widespread concern over the proliferation of potentially harmful online challenges across various platforms.
Last year, the “skull-breaker” challenge, shared on TikTok, was related to injuries.
And this year, doctors have warned of the risk to life and limbs of the “milk case challenge“, which invited the daredevils to climb pyramids of milk crates.
But online challenges can also be positive and promote helpful causes, experts note, such as the “Ice Bucket Challenge,” which has helped raise awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The independent report, Exploring Effective Educational Responses to Prevention to Dangerous Online Challenges, commissioned by TikTok, is based on a survey of teachers, parents and 5,400 children aged 13-19 in the UK, US, Germany, in Australia, Italy, Brazil, Mexico, Indonesia, Vietnam and Argentina
In response to its findings, TikTok said the technology that “alerts our security teams to sudden increases in hashtag-related content violations” will be expanded “to capture potentially dangerous behavior as well.”
For example, if a hashtag like #foodchallenge normally used to share recipes suddenly saw a spike in interest apparently linked to videos that break company rules, the team would investigate.
TikTok already has a content removal policy that “promotes or glorifies dangerous acts”.
The hoaxes about self-harm
Experts contributing to the report noted: “Adolescence is a time that has always been associated with high risk taking.”
But it comes at a time of heated public debate over the impact of social media on teens, after whistleblower Frances Haugen revealed Facebook research into the effect Instagram has had on their mental health.
TikTok research also looked at suicidal and self-harming hoaxes.
Some schools have warned parents about Momo, for example, a sinister character with bulging eyes who poses children as dangerous “challenges” as hurting themselves.
Experts said it was a hoax.
But the survey indicates they can still affect children.
Of those who saw a hoax, 31% said it had a negative impact and 63% of those who said this was on their mental health
“Hoaxes like these often have similar characteristics – and in previous cases, false warnings have circulated suggesting that children were encouraged to take part in” games “that resulted in self-harm,” TikTok said.
“These hoaxes are spread largely through warning messages that encourage others to warn as many people as possible to avoid perceived negative consequences.”
And in addition to removing the hoaxes, it would now “begin removing the alarmist warnings about them, as they could cause harm by treating the self-defeating hoax as real.”
Increased risk taking
The report also highlighted previous research suggesting that the number of hoax problem searches by children “peaked in a way that mirrored media coverage and public comment.”
Asking for better “guidelines for the media on dangerous challenges and hoaxes,” he suggested that existing guidelines on reporting suicide, followed by many media organizations, could be a model.
TikTok said they have worked “to develop a new resource for our Security Center dedicated to challenges and hoaxes” and asked for expert advice to improve the warning labels that appear to people searching for content related to challenges or challenges on Tiktok. malicious hoaxes.
“A new message will encourage community members to visit our Security Center to learn more,” he said.
“And if people were to look for hoaxes related to suicide or self-harm, we will now show additional resources in the research.”
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