TikTok’s young fans ‘exploited’ for digital gifts

2019-07-03 at 12:03

Video-sharing app TikTok says it is “sorry” that some children and other young people have felt pressured into sending money to their favourite influencers on the app.

TikTok lets fans send their favourite videomakers “digital gifts”, which can cost up to £48.99.

A BBC investigation found influencers promising to share their phone numbers with fans in exchange for the gifts.

TikTok said it would strengthen its policies and guidelines but did not explain exactly how.

Claire (not her real name) told BBC News she regretted spending £100 to obtain her favourite TikTok star’s phone number – and he had never answered his phone.

Claire, 12, who lives in the north-west of England, sent TikTok star Sebastian Moy a £48.99 “drama queen” gift to show her appreciation for his videos.

And when he had asked for another one in exchange for his personal phone number, she said she was swept up in the moment.

The US-based video-maker has 3.8 million fans on TikTok and has not broken any of the app’s rules.

He has not responded to the BBC’s requests for comment.

TikTok is the fastest-growing social media app, with about 500 million regular users, although the company doesn’t disclose its userbase. It’s estimated to have been downloaded more than a billion times on app stores.

The app lets people post 15-second videos. It is known for clips of teenagers lip-syncing and dancing to the latest trending music.