Chairman Krishnamoorthi Presses TikTok for Information on Harmful Content Shown to Children
Washington, D.C. (November 10, 2020)—Today, Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, Chair of the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy, sent a letter to the Chief Executive Officer of TikTok requesting documents and information about the platform’s troubling practice of showing dangerous content to minors, and any steps TikTok has taken to correct this problem.
“Tiktok’s algorithm, which determines the content to show each user, is dangerous for minors because it learns users’ interests and exploits their vulnerabilities much faster than other social media platforms’ algorithms. TikTok’s algorithm can then send children into endless spools of dangerous content,” the Chairman wrote. “The Subcommittee is also deeply concerned that Tiktok has failed to adequately police itself despite high volumes of inappropriate content on the app, especially given the ease with which children as young as nine can create TikTok accounts.”
In just five years, TikTok has amassed one billion users, growing faster than Facebook and YouTube. Children ages ten to 19 account for a quarter of the platform’s 130 million active users in the United States, giving TikTok enormous potential to cause harm to the next generation by failing to police the harmful content on the app. An investigation by the Wall Street Journal showed TikTok’s algorithm can overrun children’s accounts with sex- and drug-related content after the user views only a handful of related videos. Another study by NewsGuard revealed that it takes less than one hour for most children on TikTok to be exposed to misinformation related to COVID-19, including on vaccines.
Chairman Krishnamoorthi requested documents and information regarding the volume of adult content and the amount of COVID-19 misinformation shown to minors on TikTok, and steps the platform has taken to adjust its algorithm or remove harmful content.
Ensuring that social media platforms are safe for all users is a priority for Chairman Krishnamoorthi and the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. In September, the Chairman sent a letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg requesting documents and information on Facebook’s role in facilitating human trafficking content on its platforms and the failure to address the effects of Instagram on the mental health and well-being of women and girls.
Click here to read the letter to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew.