TikTok exposing kids as young as 8 to ketamine and MDMA as bragging drug videos rife on dangerous app – The Sun
TIKTOK is exposing kids as young as eight to ketamine and MDMA as bragging videos about drug taking are rife on the hugely popular app.
Videos featuring the illegal party drug ketamine are going viral on the app, while searches for drug hashtags #ket, #mdma and #pinging have more than 20 million views between them.
One video with almost a million views shows a user showing off a spoon with a "Special K" cereal design – a well-known nickname for the Class B drug – drawing a sizeable heap of what appears to be the drug towards his face.
Ketamine can put users in a trance like state, and is used for operations on humans and animals. It can cause a loss of feeling in the body and paralysis of the muscles.
In other videos, unearthed by Sky News, users show the effects of the powerful hallucinations the drug can have when taken in large doses which is known as going into a 'K hole'.
Other videos make comical references to the experiences of the drug – that can give an out-of-body experience – using computer effects.
Some showed users suffering from come downs after taking drugs. Regular users of ketamine can develop serious bladder problems, and the damage can be so serious, it has to be removed by surgery.
Ian Hamilton, a lecturer in addiction at the University of York, told the Sun Online: "Any social media that young people are exposed to in relation to drugs like ketamine is problematic as there is unlikely to be any parental or grown up that provide context for the child or monitor what the child does with the information they see.
"There is also a risk that children or young people view drug use as normalised, particularly among their peers, which is not the case as drug use by this age group, particularly ketamine, is exceptional.
"Equally apps like TikTok can give the impression that these type of drugs are harmless and fun to use…but most drugs including ketamine will have a different effect on children compared to adults. For example, children can overdose on a smaller dose of a drug than adults."
Some people on the app raised concerns about the ages of some those watching the videos.
One user wrote: "I do find this hilarious but the fact that my sister and her mates are eight/nine years old and love TikTok, I hope they don't come across this stuff."
TikTok has banned some drug hastags, including #cocaine and #heroin, but ones promoting ketamine, MDMA and slang terms associated with their use are not blocked on the app.
There have been almost 14 million searches for the hashtag #ket, 5.1 million for #mdma and 4.3 million for #pinging.
In response, TikTok pointed out the hashtags could have different meanings.
A spokesman for the app told Sky News: "Our community guidelines clearly state that we do not permit content depicting the use or trade of drugs or other controlled substances.
"We deploy a combination of policies, technologies and moderation strategies to detect and review any problematic content, while also bearing in mind context and the fact that a given word can have more than one meaning in either the same language or across languages.
"We take swift action wherever required and are continuously improving and enhancing our protective measures and using learnings like these to further strengthen our efforts."
WHAT IS TIKTOK?
TikTok, which is run by a seven-year-old company in Beijing called ByteDance, allows people to create short, snappy videos and share them around the world.
It's only been going in its current format for 2 years, but it's already available in more than 150 countries and has been downloaded more than 750 million times in the last year.
A month after it launched, it surpassed Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and SnapChat in monthly installs.
TikTok, which lets users create and share short videos with music and camera effects, is the world's most downloaded app, more popular than Facebook and Instagram.
Last year we reported how kids as young as eight were being targeted by predators and bombarded with sexually explicit messages on the app.
In the same month TikTok was told to pay about £4.3million to settle accusations that it violated children's privacy law.
However in another investigation this month we found kids, often dressed in their school uniform, were still being targeted with creepy messages.
TikTok, which has been downloaded more than a billion times in 150 countries, is labelled on the app store as being for those aged 12 and over. But it's simple for users to lie about their age.
Once logged in with an account, users can then post videos of themselves which are broadcast to other people – any of whom can then message the person directly.
Campaigners have also warned of the risks of young people falling prey to paedophiles on the app.
John Carr, one of the UK's leading experts on child online safety, warned: "There's no question an app like this is a magnet for paedophiles."
SAFETY ON TIKTOK
Can I prevent my teen from downloading TikTok?
TikTok have given the app a 12+ store rating which allows parents to use device-based parental controls to block apps from an underage child’s phone.
Please see the Apple App Store or Google Play Store instructions for more on parental controls and how to enable them.
How can my teen control who sees their videos and sends them messages?
Users can control who can see their uploaded content, follow them, and send them messages by making their account private. With a private account, users can approve or deny followers and restrict their uploaded content and incoming messages to followers only.
If a user has a public profile, anyone signed into the TikTok app can view that user’s public videos. However, only approved followers can send that user a message.
Whether users choose to have a public or a private account, they can always:
- block another from contacting them at any time
- save a video privately so that content will not be viewable by any other user
Even with a private account, profile information – including profile photo, username, and bio – will be visible to all users.
How can my teen report inappropriate content or behavior?
If you or your teen sees something that might violate the app's Terms of Service, it can be reported to TikTok’s moderation team.
Users can report a specific video, user or comment within the app itself.
Furthermore, your teen can block another user from being able to view their content or send them messages.
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