TikTok survey finds ‘prank challenges’ are scaring teenagers. What is being done? – National

TikTok is vowing to beef up its resources for users who get caught up in scary app hoaxes, after a new report found that less than a third of teens recognize these hoaxes as ” obvious forgery”.


The report, commissioned and supported by TikTok, also found that while many teens are distressed by the terrifying hoaxes they see on the app, less than half seek help afterward.

The hoaxes vary, but generally include seemingly unfounded warnings about a large-eyed, dark-haired woman known as “Momo” who threatens users who fail to perform tasks. the violence she demands. Another game based on rumors of a 50-step challenge that starts off innocuous, but goes to the ultimate mission – challenge the user to commit suicide.

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In response, TikTok said it plans to increase its monitoring efforts, Safety Center resources, and alert prompts for users.

The report found that among teenagers who were exposed to prank challenges, 31% believed it had a negative impact on them. Of those who experienced this negative impact, 63% said the hoax affected their mental health.

However, only 46% of teens have sought support and advice afterward, according to the new report.

The findings were published on Wednesday in a report titled Discover effective prevention education responses to dangerous online challenges. For the report, TikTok hired brand consulting firm The Value Engineers (TVE) to conduct an online survey of 10,000 13- to 19-year-olds, parents and teachers around the world about their experience with online challenges and hoaxes.

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No margin of error was provided for the survey results.

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TikTok then hired Praesidio Safeguarding to compile the key findings and make recommendations in the form of this new report.

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Zoe Hilton, director and founder of Praesidio Safeguarding, said: “The fact that less than half of teenagers are thinking about support and advice is probably something we need to address.

“Hoax challenges” are reportedly defined as a “specific subcategory of dangerous challenges where the challenge element is fake, but they are designed to be intimidating and hurtful and therefore That has a negative impact on mental health.”

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Take the “Momo” challenge as an example. In this “prank challenge”, a rumor is that a scary woman with bulging eyes will appear on the user’s screen when they watch something innocuous, such as a cartoon.

There is no evidence that teenagers are actually participating in the “Momo challenge,” according to multiple reports.

(Image File/Getty)

The woman – which is really a statue from Japan, not real people – rumored to tell users that something bad will happen if they don’t complete a challenge. Her claim is said to potentially involve self-harm or even suicide, according to the stories.

There is no evidence that any teenagers have actually participated in the challenge, according to much report.

Instead, the hoax itself – the rumor that a challenge could pop up on your screen at any moment – can cause anxiety among teenagers, the report found.

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“Everybody grows up with something like Slenderman or any other idea,” says Carmen Celestini, a professor at the University of Waterloo and a fellow with the Information Project at Simon Fraser University.

“But now, just because the medium has changed, it can become much scarier. ”

TikTok said it plans to take a step beyond removing prank videos on its own, and will begin removing “alarmers” about hoaxes that spread misinformation by “regarding hoaxes as self-deprecating.” Self-harm is real.”

“We will continue to allow conversations to take place to find ways to dispel panic and promote accurate information,” Alexandra Evans, TikTok’s head of safety public policy in Europe, said in a statement. an email statement.

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Evans added that TikTok has created technology that alerts safety teams when there’s a sudden spike in rule-breaking content – whether it’s a hoax or a dangerous challenge – linked to a tag start with a specific #.

“For example, a hashtag like #FoodChallenge is often used to share recipes and cooking inspiration, so if we notice a spike in content associated with the tag starting with # that violates our policies, our team will be notified to find the cause of this and better equipped to take steps to watch out for potential trends or behaviors harmful,” she said.

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The report also shows that teens, parents and educators need better information about these challenges and hoaxes. To that end, Evans said TikTok has developed a new resource in its “Safety Center” that is “dedicated to challenges and hoaxes.”

“This includes advice for caregivers that we hope can address the uncertainty they express when discussing this topic with their youth,” says Evans.

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TikTok already has warning labels that pop up when users search for something harmful. But now people trying to find a harmful challenge or hoax will see a “new prompt” that will “encourage community members to visit our Safety Center to learn more.” “.

“If people are searching for hoaxes related to suicide or self-harm, we will display additional resources to search for,” Evans said.

Experts worry that it’s not enough

While Celestini says she feels “goodwill” from TikTok, she cautions that the app still needs to step up efforts when it comes to preventing the spread of hoaxes and conspiracy theories on the app.

“I think they’re doing a good job, but they really have to pay attention. There’s so much that comes out and the way algorithms work, if you click on one or two TikTok videos you don’t expect… the things that come up next can really change the trajectory and adventures of a person. friends on TikTok,” said Celestini.

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“They have to see what’s actually on their site… there’s got to be some responsibility for that.”

The activities of social media platforms that target and influence children and young people have been in the spotlight in recent weeks.

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In October, a panel of the US Senate took testimony from a former Facebook data scientist who presented the company’s internal research showing that Instagram appeared to be causing serious harm to some users. Teenager. The subcommittee then expanded its focus to look at other tech platforms that also compete for the attention and loyalty of young people – including TikTok.

TikTok, YouTube and Snapchat have pledged to keep young users safe at the hearings, but were criticized by the US panel for making only “minor tweaks and changes” and not going far enough to minimize potential harm to children.

According to Celestini, “the real impact is also on the parents.”

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Parents should make sure they have an “open conversation” with their kids about social media, whether it’s about scary videos teens can watch or their responsibilities when it comes to spreading information. falsehoods and hoaxes.

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“We just share, share, share and we don’t think about it. And that’s really how things go viral,” Celestini said.

For teens who might be intimidated by app hoaxes, Celestini said they should “get out of TikTok” and turn to “Google” to help clear up what might confuse them or worried.

“You can find a lot of information there,” says Celestini.

The essence of the TikTok algorithm is that when you interact with content, it tends to serve more of the same thing, Celestini added. She recommends teens try to break the cycle of prank videos by actively looking for something less scary and “taking that time to feel what you’re feeling”.

And, she added, “if you’re scared, leave TikTok for a few days.”

—With files from the Associated Press

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

https://globalnews.ca/news/8374368/tiktok-hoax-challenge-dangerous-teens/ | TikTok survey finds ‘prank challenges’ are scaring teenagers. What is being done? – National

Aila Slisco

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