TikTok takes a dark turn

TikTok users are making the app a sexual platform.

By Natalie VonderHeide

After scrolling through seemingly harmless videos on your TikTok “for you page”, a short clip of a shirtless man performing erotic dances takes over your screen. After taking a couple of seconds to process that sight, you continue scrolling only to find a similar video. 

TikTok is a popular social media app where users can create up to a 60-second video of almost anything. Since becoming an international app in 2017, the app has added features like putting your own video along with another person’s video. 

TikTok plays the role of being a creative outlet for many while also allowing people to find others with similar interests or even struggles.  

At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the app’s user base skyrocketed. Children, adults, and even the elderly from all over the world maneuvered their way into this new platform. 

After a bit of time, this innocuous app took a turn for the worse. One of the biggest trends that developed on TikTok was point-of-view (POV) videos. Users would create a script of them asking questions and responding with a possible response someone would say back. One of the previously stated features of doing side-by-side videos came in handy with this trend as other users could make response videos. While most POV videos seemed to be harmless, adult men began to enter the trend creating dark videos of them acting as a senior in high school, trying to sleep with an underclassman. They might also talk inappropriately to an underage girl. 

Even though there was no person directly affected by the creation of this video, the content shows younger viewers that situations like this can be glorified. 

These kinds of point-of-view videos encourage people to act on these kinds of behaviors and basically make the app a pedophile’s playground. 

Dancing is also a well-liked category on the app that is ruined by older men. Videos appear of 20 to 30-year-old men dancing with clothing off or grabbing their genitals on camera. TikTok has yet to create a prevention algorithm to keep these kinds of videos from ending up on younger people’s “for you page.” 

While the app is now regulated to people 13 years of age and up in the US, there is no actual way to prove the person making the account on the app is being truthful about their age. 

With the continuation of sexual content being uploaded, the National Center on Sexual Exploitation listed TikTok on its 2020 “Dirty Dozen” list of companies facilitating sexual exploitation.

At this rate, TikTok might just become another platform for offenders to access instead of entertainment for everyone.