In France, half of 11 to 12 year olds, according to a study, use TikTok. To find out what the video platform that has dethroned YouTube among the under 15s exposes them to, a journalist from “Complément d’Investigation” tried an experiment. She created an account on the app by entering “2007” as the date of birth, as if she was 13 years old.
Thirteen is the minimum legal age to register on the platform – which does not make any verification. Our journalist will thus know which videos TikTok offers to a child who has just registered. The result of the experiment, visible in this excerpt, is not very reassuring.
“- How to have a nice car? – Ah bah we prostitute ourselves”
At first, nothing really bad: just funny videos. After a minute, a rather seductive young woman appears on the screen. It is immediately followed by another, just as sexy. Then, almost four innocuous minutes, then a few seconds of vulgarity. Two minutes later, another video answers the question “How do you get a nice car?” : “Ah bah we prostitute ourselves! Bois de Boulogne in the evening, Bois de Vincennes during the day …”
These videos are suggested to the fake teen by TikTok’s algorithm. Artificial intelligence knows nothing about her other than her age, 13. She did not indicate any areas of interest that might have influenced her choices.
Videos of married life, explicit words and gestures
“Overall, concludes the journalist, videos of the life of a couple, which talk about sex, rolling joints in the evening … ” And some content with explicit gestures and words, to which no one wants to see an audience of 13 years old. Or less … Because according to the testimony of a former moderator, the platform would not delete the accounts of users who are theoretically too young to register. Contrary to what she says in an email to “Complément d’inquête” …
Excerpt from “All crazy from TikTok!”, A document to see in “Further investigation” on January 14, 2021.
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