In light of parents suing Meta and Snap over social media addiction that contributed to the deaths of their children, statements made by Kanye West this weekend about his child’s unauthorized use of TikTok are raising concerns with parents around the world.
West went as far as to imply that he could bring legal action against TikTok unless it enforces its own terms and conditions, which prohibit anyone under age 13 from posting unrestricted content on the app.
What should be clear to everyone by now is that TikTok is dangerous. It is dangerous for individuals and, as it is being used to spread Chinese propaganda and potentially exercise influence over its users, may pose a serious threat to national security.
This weekend, West raised another reason why TikTok shouldn’t be used: The company is not enforcing its own terms and conditions to keep children safe. West took to Instagram with a scorched-earth post about his 8-year-old daughter North using TikTok without his permission. The post has since been removed.
West’s argument is that while his estranged wife, Kim Kardashian, granted her permission for their daughter to use TikTok, he opposes it, feeling that it is unsafe for her to do so. He uploaded a section of TikTok’s terms and conditions, which provide a compelling argument as to why no 8-year-old, even with the unanimous consent of her parents, should be allowed to post on TikTok in the way North did.
TikTok offers a “Younger Users” feature for children under 13 with additional privacy and safety protections. This was not the way North was permitted to post. According to TikTok’s own rules, West argues, this should result in North being removed from the app, even if she posted with the permission of a parent.
Lauren Scardella, a New Jersey lawyer, says families need to appreciate how important this issue is.
“This is an issue that can become very complicated very quickly. Where two estranged parents disagree about the use of social media for their child and can’t find a middle ground, this not only makes co-parenting difficult, it is hard on the child. But where one parent objects to their child — who is under the minimum use age in the app’s terms and conditions — using the app without their permission, things could become litigious.”
If West isn’t simply invoking TikTok as part of a rant against his ex-wife and actually wants to protect children from the most dangerous mainstream social media application on the market, he should pursue his line of reasoning here and potential legal action against TikTok should it fail to remove his underage child from its platform.
Is TikTok dangerous for children?
The last thing in the world TikTok wants, especially on the heels of ongoing lawsuits with real merit against Meta and Snap, is one of the most influential celebrities in the world taking up a crusade against it to keep children safe and redeem his own tarnished image. This would be beyond a nightmare for TikTok and could put its ongoing viability as a business in doubt.
It remains to be seen whether TikTok is simply a disgusting app whose growth is fueled by adolescent narcissists or a potential national security threat the government is moving too slow to address, as The Wall Street Journal reported last week.
Yet what is certain today is that when parents fail to follow even the remarkably low safety standards the app sets for its use by very young children, it is a recipe for disaster for both families and TikTok itself.
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