While a few social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter are household names, there are many more that have dedicated followings, even if they do not have the same user base. One relatively new video-based platform is TikTok, which combines the fun of longer videos and posts like Instagram with the curated video feed format of Vine. The result is a 14 million-fan platform that uploads countless fifty-second videos on a daily basis.
Unfortunately, a new study has found that scammers have also infiltrated this site and are using it to promote everything from dating apps to financial fraud. This is especially alarming considering the numbers of children and teens who use TikTok regularly.
- Some of the scams are obvious teasers for explicit adult content. Using stolen images and video clips, scammers entice viewers to click through to a different platform and pay money for access to pornography. Other platforms, like Snapchat, do not require users’ phone numbers if they want to send messages, and are therefore a little harder to track and block
- Other TikTok scams have been uncovered that offer users the chance to buy high numbers of followers. Since many of these followers are fake accounts, it literally serves no purpose other than to make other users think you are important or popular due to your high follower count
- Finally, researchers uncovered bogus accounts that masquerade as other users, especially celebrities, in an effort to get more followers. Once the scammer has a lot of followers, they can monetize by posing as an “influencer” who can promote products and brands
None of these scams are inherently unique to TikTok, but at the same time, TikTok is precisely as problematic as any other platform for its potential to cause harm to unsuspecting users. It is very important that users—and users’ parents, if the account holders are underaged—know the ins and outs of how different social media sites work before engaging with other users and their content.
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