Tik Tok, the Chinese app that occupies the fourth place in the list of 2019’s most downloaded apps, was fined almost 6 million dollars for storing data from children, making it fertile ground for grooming, since it has absolutely no parental control option. This fine broke the record and is now the highest monetary fine ever imposed on anyone accused of interfering with a child’s privacy.
A space of all your own, and full of danger
According to experts, TikTok is a network in which children and teenagers enjoy space of their own, free of parental interference or supervision, since accounts aren’t shared.
Data provided by Digiday points out that 60% of the network’s users are aged between 16 and 24, though there are probably younger users. The network’s main objective is for its users to have fun creating music videos, duets and challenges; it also has a wide range of creative options, meant to attract members of the GenZ.
The app makes it difficult to verify users’ actual ages. This problem is present in all social media platforms, but in TikTok’s case the issue is more pressing due to the high amount of minors using it.
This Chinese network has yet to be included in the Global Internet Forum. It’s also under investigation in the United Kingdom due to fears it may become a pedophile magnet. It’s a cyberspace in which victims and aggressors can easily cohabit: cases have been reported of children having been subjected to grooming.
British newspaper The Sun looked into many of them, especially one in which the 8-year-old victims received a number of TikTok messages sent by adults, threatening them in order to gain sexual favors.
Minors still make regular use of the app, unaware of the fact that they can become victims. Even worse, children still don’t know in which servers the videos are stored.
Chicken Nuggets and ice cream
Another social network in the hot seat is Facebook. A new strategy implemented by pedophiles everywhere in order to attract, grow close to or attack children is to pretend to be inanimate objects in order to contact them.
In order to attract potential victims, aggressors use pictures of food as avatars, such as ice cream or chicken nuggets, or names of famous streets. Some use it only to access photos of children, others to contact them.
Previous estimates placed Instagram as the network where most pedophiles contacted children, followed by Facebook. With this new method of attack, perverts have found yet another way to access private photos from minors, by hiding behind a fake profile.
Parents must be aware of the kind of pictures children upload to the web, and not only on social media. Portals such as Musical.ly attract children as young as 5, 6 and 7 since it can be used to lip-sync to their favorite songs, including short videos where they dance as their favorite singers.
A girl whose account had only 20 followers –four of which she didn’t know—received anonymous messages in which someone suggested she would get more likes if she sang in her underwear.
It’s important to know that if a child constantly publishes photos of his or her surrounding, criminals can locate them and potentially attack them. For this and many other reasons, it’s of the utmost importance to monitor all minors’ web activity.