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TikTok controversies in 2024 explained by the professionals

Published on 23.03.2024 by Tracey Chizoba Fletcher

Before merging with the musical.ly, TikTok was not the place of bullying or any controversies. Even the journalists of VOX noted in 2018 that TikTok was a safe place for controversial topics and bullies. Everything changed after the pandemic. More people joined the internet and there was plenty of time to sit online and scroll the app. In 2020, the “duet” feature became viral on TikTok. More people started duetting the videos and the rest is history. Currently there are many controversies around the application. Today, we will go through the issues and how it can be solved.


Cyberbullying on TikTok

Cyberbullying on TikTok has emerged as a significant concern, reflecting the broader challenges of online harassment on social media platforms. TikTok, a leading app for short-form video content, attracts millions of users worldwide, including a younger demographic. This popularity, however, also opens the door to various forms of cyberbullying, ranging from hurtful comments and videos to more insidious forms of harassment like doxxing and swatting. Victims often experience emotional distress, anxiety, and in severe cases, may suffer from depression. Cyberbullying on TikTok is particularly concerning because the platform's algorithm can rapidly amplify harmful content, potentially reaching vast audiences. To combat this, TikTok has implemented safety features, including comment filters and more stringent content moderation policies. Nonetheless, the fight against cyberbullying requires continuous efforts from both the platform and its community to foster a safer online environment where creativity and expression are not overshadowed by fear and intimidation.


Duet feature as an advantage of cyber bullies

The Duet feature on TikTok allows users to create content by responding to or interacting with another user's video, displaying both videos side by side. While intended to foster creativity and collaboration, this feature can unfortunately also be exploited by cyberbullies for malicious purposes. Cyberbullies may use the Duet feature to mock, ridicule, or harass other users in a public manner. This exploitation is particularly effective because it directly links the bully's harmful content to the original video, making the targeted individual's content a focal point for further bullying or negative attention. The public nature of these Duets can amplify the emotional distress experienced by the victim, as the harmful responses can quickly circulate across the platform, attracting more viewers and potentially more bullies. This feature, despite its positive intentions, can inadvertently provide cyberbullies with a powerful tool to harm others under the guise of engagement or creativity, underscoring the importance of vigilant moderation and supportive community standards to protect users.


Backlash on TikTok bullies making fun of people with disabilities

The backlash on TikTok around making fun of autism highlights the platform's struggle with content moderation and community guidelines. Videos mocking individuals with autism sparked widespread outrage, underscoring the need for a more inclusive and respectful online environment. The controversy shed light on the broader issue of ableism and cyberbullying on social media. In response, TikTok faced calls to enforce stricter content moderation policies and to take immediate action against users who engage in such harmful behavior. The incident served as a reminder of the responsibility social media platforms have in fostering a safe space for all users, particularly vulnerable groups, and the importance of promoting understanding and empathy over mockery and discrimination.


Addiction of TikTok - mental health

TikTok addiction has become a pressing concern, highlighting the compulsive nature of endless scrolling on the application. The platform's algorithm is finely tuned to present a personalized stream of short, engaging videos that cater to users' interests, making it incredibly difficult to stop watching. This addictive quality is not incidental; it's by design, leveraging psychological principles to keep users engaged for longer periods. The dopamine-driven feedback loop created by likes, comments, and shares further reinforces this behavior, making users crave more interaction and validation. This constant engagement leads to significant amounts of time spent on the app, often at the expense of real-world interactions, responsibilities, and even sleep. The problem of TikTok addiction is emblematic of larger issues related to digital well-being and the impact of social media on mental health. It raises important questions about the responsibility of tech companies in creating products that prioritize user health and productivity over addictive engagement.


War analysis or way for trolls to spread misinformation?

TikTok trends covering wars in the world reflect the platform's role as a significant information source, especially for younger audiences. Users create and share content that includes firsthand accounts, analyses, and opinions on various conflicts, offering diverse perspectives. Along with the real analysis, there are millions of users (bullies, trolls and bots) on the platform that use trends to spread fake news. Spreading the misinformation during the wars is the heel of achilles for the application. 

TikTok allows discussions on controversial topics like wars because it supports freedom of expression, aiming to foster a diverse and global community where different viewpoints can be shared and understood. However, this openness also necessitates rigorous content moderation to prevent misinformation, hate speech, and content that could incite violence. The platform faces the challenge of balancing free speech with the responsibility of ensuring a safe and accurate information environment, a task that is crucial yet complex in the context of discussing sensitive topics like wars.