TikTok finally took some moral responsibility and announced that it will ban ads for weight loss supplements, fasting apps, and anything that “promotes a harmful and negative body image.”
According to a press release published today, TikTok’s new policies are as follows:
Over the past few months, many users have reported seeing more ads encouraging them to lose their lockdown weight or try out intermittent fasting — one of the favourite health regimes of Silicon Valley tech bros. Last year, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey spoke about how he had been “playing with fasting,” and how he ate no food all weekend.
These constant references to weight can be extremely triggering for people who have suffered with eating disorders, and being inundated with videos can lead users to take up habits that can take years to break. Seeing these videos shared by other users is one thing — but having them shoved in your face by a platform that is raking in ad revenue from skeevy companies is another thing entirely.
Considering the millions of kids who have spent most of quarantine glued to TikTok, you would have thought it would have banned weight-loss ads a long time ago. A New York Times study published in August revealed that a third of TikTok’s U.S. users may be 14 or under — an age group that is particularly vulnerable to ads promoting negative body image.
TikTok also announced that it will be partnering with the National Eating Disorder Association (NEDA) to “connect users with resources directly from the app”. As part of this, searches and hashtags associated with unsafe content will be redirected to the NEDA helpline.
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