TikTok users accused of grooming children on the app faced lenient punishment and in many cases were only suspended for a week, according to the Sun.
Advocates for children’s safety against child abuse have called for TikTok to be banned in the U.K. after the Sun reported in February that pedophiles use the platform to groom children as young as 8 years old.
A year ago, the Sun revealed how videos of children in school clothes were garnering perverted comments, which is only part of the larger problem of older users messaging young children on the app.
An internet child safety expert told the Sun at the time that the app was a “magnet for pedophiles.”
But TikTok is seemingly doing very little to address ongoing concerns. According to the latest report, users who were banned for messaging sexually explicit messages to children were allowed back on the app after a week.
The users were also allowed to keep their same account, which means that they could likely still access messages and maintain contact with underage users.
If a user was reported for an offense a second time, they received a ban for a month. If they were reported a third time, they were finally banned from the app.
The Daily Dot reached out to TikTok and will update this report with the company’s response.
About one in every 10 messages that were reported were adults sending inappropriate messages to children, according to former employees who spoke with the Sun.
Meanwhile, it appears that even the moderators faced difficulties in responding to reports of adults inappropriately interacting with children.
Former moderators told the Sun that instead of responding to every report, they were asked to monitor only up to 1,000 videos per day. The Daily Dot couldn’t independently verify how many reports came in per day, but the app has been downloaded 2 billion times.
Another former moderator told the Sun that even though the rule was to view a flagged content within 15 minutes, flagged content would often remain unchecked for days.
Update 5:39pm CT, July 20: In a statement to the Daily Dot, TikTok said it has a “zero tolerance policy” on child abuse and grooming.
“Flagged and suspected grooming behavior is escalated to our internal Child Safety Team (CST) to investigate,” the statement said. “In line with international standards, we report all necessary information to NCMEC [National Center for Missing & Exploited Children] which works directly with law enforcement, and ban the offending user.”
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H/T the Sun