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TikTok faces UK probe for allowing kids to throw money at influencers for little in return

TikTok faces UK probe for allowing kids to throw money at influencers for little in return

‘Mummy, I want to buy a Dirty Diana’ TIKTOK has become the latest social media app to fall foul of the prying eyes of the UK government after fears were raised about the way it interacts with children. Live streaming ‘celebrities’ have been shown demanding virtual purchases from viewers, with the promise of direct contact

TikTok faces UK probe for allowing kids to throw money at influencers for little in return

‘Mummy, I want to buy a Dirty Diana’

TIKTOK has become the latest social media app to fall foul of the prying eyes of the UK government after fears were raised about the way it interacts with children.

Live streaming ‘celebrities’ have been shown demanding virtual purchases from viewers, with the promise of direct contact via Instagram or even their mobile number.

In some cases, kids are spending up to £50 at a time in the hope of getting closer to some random that masquerades as a celeb, by purchasing a so-called “drama queen ” token.

Kids say that often they’ll find that the TikToker won’t answer messages on the number they get given, or at best, they get a quick ‘hello’ rather than the more grandiose claims of ‘direct contact for the whole week’ or similar.

It’s a bit like if we started charging our readers for one-to-one tech support and then sent them messages about switching it off and on again (have you tried that, by the way?)

TikTok is the fastest growing social network right now, with the vast majority of its users in the ‘young and gullible’ age bracket.

The company told the BBC, which first broke the story that it was “sorry” and that it would tighten up its rules and regulations. However, it declined to explain exactly what that meant, or how much of the revenue generated by the “gifts” sent by users was kept by TikTok itself, though experts suggest it could be as much as 50 per cent.

The company is already under investigation in the US for allegedly storing data from under-13s. It has no been confirmed that the UK Data Commissioner’s Office is launching its own probe of how TikTok conducts itself, and protects its users.

In the meantime – this quote by a pair of Tik-Tok users, given to the BBC investigation pretty much says it all: “We don’t like it when our gifters are young, so basically we ask them if their parents know about it. But we can’t stop them. We can’t stop it.” µ



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Susan E. Lopez
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