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TikTok's algorithm shows anti-vaccine videos to children as young as 9, researchers say

Added 10-09-21 01:14:01pm EST - “Users under 13 can easily circumvent Tik Tok's age restrictions, exposing themselves to harmful COVID-19 misinformation that lives on the platform.” - Businessinsider.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Businessinsider.com: “TikTok's algorithm shows anti-vaccine videos to children as young as 9, researchers say”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

At this point, it's no secret that social media algorithms unintentionally help peddle COVID misinformation to millions of users. The more pressing problem is who that content is directed toward.

The popular social media app TikTok is feeding misinformation content to young children — even within minutes of signing up. False information was targeted toward children as young as nine, even if the young users did not follow nor search for that content.

According to a report from media rating firm NewsGuard, researchers found that COVID-related misinformation reached eight of the study's nine child participants within the first 35 minutes on the platform, with two-thirds of the participants saw incorrect information specific to the COVID vaccines. This included content relating to unsubstantiated claims about COVID and the vaccine and homeopathic remedies for COVID.

"TikTok's failure to stop the spread of dangerous health misinformation on their app is unsustainable bordering on dangerous," Alex Cadier, the UK managing editor for NewsGuard who co-authored the report, told the Guardian. "Despite claims of taking action against misinformation, the app still allows anti-vaccine content and health hoaxes to spread relatively unimpeded."

NewsGuard conducted the study in August and September, asking children ages nine to 17 from different cultural backgrounds to create accounts on TikTok. Though the platform restricts full access to the app for users younger than 13, the three youngest users were able to create accounts with no outside help. As of March 2021, a quarter of TikTok's 130 million active monthly users in the US are between 10 and 19, according to Statista.

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