TikTok is a relatively new social media platform for short-form mobile videos. It has quickly become popular, especially among young people. However, like all social media, it poses dangers and risks of harm and bullying to its users.
Social Media & Cyberbullying
Cyberbullying is using electronic communication to bully, threaten, harass, or humiliate an individual. It can occur in any digital space but is commonly present on social media platforms.
Like traditional bullying, cyberbullying can target a person’s physical attributes, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, and political beliefs.
Recognizing Online Bullying
The first step to combating cyberbullying is to recognize it. The truth is not every hurtful or unkind comment will be considered bullying. Cyberbullying often involves repetitive conduct. So, although upsetting, a one-time negative comment may not rise to the level of cyberbullying. However, constant and repetitive comments or harassment is.
What Does Cyberbullying on TikTok Look Like?
Like any bullying on social media, cyberbullying on TikTok can take many forms, including harassment, threats, intimidation, blackmail, verbal abuse, and more.
Cyberbullying on TikTok can come from almost anyone, anywhere in the world. It is not necessarily localized to peers, classmates, and neighborhood kids. It can be an adult from around the globe harassing your teen about their physical appearance.
Teenagers are especially prone and sensitive to negative comments about their physical appearance, and mean and hurtful words can lead to, among other things, poor self-esteem, emotional distress, depression, and anxiety.
Sadly, another form of cyberbullying on TikTok combines “old-fashioned” and online bullying. Bullies can live-stream or record a video for upload of them physically or verbally harassing, assaulting, or abusing another person. If this is not bad enough, others can watch the video, share it, and leave comments on it.
Live-stream video can be one of the most dangerous forms because others often encourage bullies. If they live-stream a video and get many hits from others, it can encourage the bully to continue or even intensify the abuse.
Some forms of cyberbullying on TikTok can be extraordinarily harmful and criminal. For instance, if you believe an adult is sexually abusing your child via TikTok, contact your local authorities immediately.
Preventing TikTok Bullying
Many suggest deleting the app if you or your child is experiencing cyberbullying on TikTok. However, sadly, much of the harm may already be done, and deleting the app will not reverse that. Simply deleting the app also gives power to the bully. While avoiding TikTok altogether may be the answer for some, there are other means you may want to try before deleting the platform entirely.
Set Your Account to Private
You can control who can view your profile and content by setting your account to private. This takes away unfeathered access to your content by the general public. You can easily change this in your privacy settings. If you are 16 or younger, your account is set to private by default. Therefore, you must approve and choose who you will allow to follow your account.
Control Who Messages You
Direct messages (DMs) are a common form of communication across social media platforms, including TikTok. Like your profile, you can control who is allowed to direct message you. Only those who are 16 or older have access to direct messages from their account. A parent or guardian can also control the settings when “family pairing” is enabled.
New Preventions For TikTok Cyberbullying
In response to concerns of bullying and harassment, TikTok has implemented two new features to combat the problem. One tool allows the video creator and poster to filter comments, and the other warns commenters to reconsider submitting their comment.
Filter All Comments Feature
The first new bullying prevention feature TikTok has implemented allows the potential victim to control comments on their videos. Specifically, it will enable the video poster to approve, delete, and filter comments. It gives them the power to prevent possible bullying.
Nudges to Commentators
The second new feature targets the potential bully. TikTok now pushes “nudges” onto the viewer and commentator. In other words, the commentator will be urged to reconsider posting their comment if it is offensive or abusive. They will receive a prompt asking them to review the posting.
While this multi-prong approach will help alleviate cyberbullying by pressuring content creators and viewers to act responsibly, no measures will completely curb cyberbullying. Users and parents must recognize signs of bullying and take swift action when necessary.
Call Us Today
At O’Connor, Parsons, Lane & Noble, our partners have been honored by the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) for their display of civility, integrity, and skill in trial advocacy. Our clients are our top priority. Not every case requires litigation and a trial, but no matter what, we deliver top-notch advocacy for each of our clients. If you or someone you love is a victim of cyberbullying on TikTok, you have options. Contact us today for a confidential discussion.