TikTok is testing a new setting that will allow users who initiate livestream sessions to restrict access to people under the age of 18. Far from being a gesture of concern for the safety and sanity of users, the measure prepared by the BiteDance administrator is intended to reduce the growing pressure to ban TikTok that has arisen from the numerous abuses committed on the platform.
In addition to facilitating access to banned substances and sexual services, the TikTok network is also an ideal “vehicle” for propaganda, misinformation and the propagation of content that incites all kinds of violence, self-mutilation and even suicide. Take the example of the “Blackout Challenge”, a so-called challenge based on the distribution of suggestive videos distributed on TikTok, enticing the general public of teenage age to take part in acts of self-strangulation that can very easily lead to death.
Unfortunately, the introduction of a parental control setting for live videos on TikTok is also unlikely to solve the problem that started the whole dispute in the first place, i.e. that some people are distributing videos on the platform that have a very high virality potential and can have extremely harmful effects on TikTok users. However, the unintended effects of clandestine operations on TikTok, such as facilitating access to sexual services or prohibited substances, could be limited. At the same time, access to unintended content by minors should be much easier to restrict, assuming the originators of live streams are really concerned about this. It is likely that TikTok administrators will also introduce a mechanism to encourage proper tagging of live sessions, such as introducing automatic filters to identify inappropriate content for minors and penalising users who fail to properly tag shared clips.