TikTok Still Exposing Kids to Sexual Content

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is urging TikTok to improve content moderation to better protect children on the platform. A Wall Street Journal investigation found that minors can be exposed to videos featuring sexual content.

“While we have commended TikTok for making significant safety improvements over the last year, it is clear that TikTok needs to do much more to protect minors from exposure to sexual content and pornographic websites. We have been pressing on TikTok to proactively moderate content because even our own research confirms what the Wall Street Journal found: under an account we created as a 13-year-old, we were easily able to find videos promoting OnlyFans, as well as other pornography and prostitution sites despite the fact that this type of material is against TikTok’s Community Guidelines,” said Lina Nealon, director of corporate and strategic initiatives for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

“If a social media company like TikTok is not sufficiently and proactively moderating content through AI and human review, kids will continue to be exposed to sexual or pornographic material no matter how many safety controls are in place. TikTok and all social media companies must be accountable for the environments they create, especially when their insufficient policies and practices leave so much room for exploitation, abuse, and harm,” Nealon said.

After being named to NCOSE’s 2020 Dirty Dozen List and meeting with NCOSE, TikTok implemented several of NCOSE’s recommendations to significantly improve their safety features for minors, such as disabling direct messaging for those under 16 and allowing parents to lock controls with a pin code. TikTok was named to NCOSE’s 2021 Dirty Dozen “Watch List,” given the significant improvements it had made to the platform, though NCOSE continued to urge TikTok to default “restricted mode” for minors and improve content moderation. The Dirty Dozen List highlights mainstream contributors to sexual exploitation.

EDITORS NOTE: This NCOSE column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

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