Coalition of 44 Attorneys General press TikTok and Snapchat on parental controls and content moderation

Law enforcement say the post was shared through social media.
Law enforcement say the post was shared through social media.(wwbt)
Published: Mar. 30, 2022 at 7:17 AM EDT
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RALEIGH, N.C. (WECT) - A coalition of 44 attorneys general signed a letter Monday asking Snapchat and TikTok to increase their parental control capabilities.

The coalition lead by Attorneys General Josh Stein and Lynn Fitch explains that Snapchat and TikTok in particular do not allow access from external parental control apps and have inconsistent moderation. They cite a Wall Street Journal report which found that the app’s “For You” page can send users down “rabbit holes” which contain sexually explicit and drug-related content.

As the WSJ explains, while other platforms typically recommend content based on who the user is following, TikTok uses an algorithm to track the topics and types of videos which the user lingers on. TikTok does moderate its content, but the WSJ report found the moderation to be inconsistent, and that some disturbing videos remain on the platform long enough to be seen by hundreds or thousands of people.

The algorithm sends people down rabbit holes in their For You pages based on what they spend the most time with, and that remains true whether the content is comedy sketches and relatable memes or teenagers venting their depressive or suicidal thoughts to other teens. Due to the sheer amount of content on TikTok, moderators take longer to reach videos with fewer views.

Meanwhile, some TikTok moderators have spoken out about negative experiences at their jobs and exposure to explicit and violent content.

Per the coalition’s letter, “Often, the displayed sexual content can be extreme and has the potential to be harmful in a number of different ways. Content depicting abusive sexual relationships can seriously harm a child’s view of a healthy relationship and can help perpetuate domestic abuse and human trafficking.”

The coalition suggests that the TikTok and Snapchat work with parental control apps and to improve content moderation and parental controls tools in the platforms themselves.

Attorney General Josh Stein said in a press release, “Parents need to be able to take measures to make sure children are safe on social media and help them when there are signs of trouble. I’m proud to lead this group of bipartisan attorneys general to urge social media companies to better protect our kids.”

You can read the full letter below:

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