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Police and Crime Commissioner describes findings of BBC Three’s investigation into TikTok ‘deeply concerning’

21 September 2023

Donna Jones, Hampshire and Isle of Wight Police and Crime Commissioner and chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners has described the findings of the BBC investigation into TikTok’s algorithms as ‘deeply concerning’.

The investigation reveals how online content shared on the platform encourages anti-social behaviour in the real world.

The story refers to ex-employees of TikTok saying the issue is not being tackled for fear of slowing the growth of the social media app’s business, and that the algorithm and design means people are seeing videos which they wouldn’t normally be recommended which in turn incentivises them to do unusual things in their own videos on the platform.

The Commissioner publicly warned parents of the dangers of viral online trends back in June, specifically videos inciting anti-social behaviour and dangerous activities following riots and gatherings in Oxford Street, Southend and Bexleyheath.

Having contributed to the development of the Online Safety Bill, passed in parliament this week, she has described these new allegations unearthed by BBC Three as deeply worrying.

In response, Donna Jones said: “This most recent BBC investigation follows the calls I made earlier this year to social media companies to act quickly and responsibly to protect children and prevent crime and harm.

“These recent comments from ex-employees of TikTok come in the same week that the long delayed Online Safety Bill was passed in parliament and will now be made law.

“These new allegations are deeply worrying.

“Social media platforms now prove a greater threat of harm to children and young people sitting inside their bedrooms than being out at night on the streets.”

“Parents need to be aware of how these platforms work and the content that’s being shared on them and social media companies need to prioritise safety above all else.”

The Online Safety Bill passed its final Parliamentary debate earlier this week (September 19) and is now ready to become law. It takes a zero-tolerance approach when it comes to protecting children online, meaning social media platforms will be legally responsible for the content that they host, and they will be expected to remove illegal content quickly or prevent it from appearing in the first place.