TikTok’s algorithm keeps suggesting videos of users performing fake sex

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Have you seen the latest TikTok trend? You know, those live broadcasts.

The live videos in question involve a user, usually a clothed young woman, simulating sex. The problem with the videos is that they are pushed to users who do not consent to seeing sexual content or searching for it on the app. TikTok removes these simulated sex livestreams once they become aware of them, but it’s not always immediate as it usually depends on users to report the content. It can be quite shocking to see on your For You page.

Videos are prohibited under adult nudity and sexual activities of TikTok guidelines, which specifically mentions content that even “imitates, implies or displays sexual acts”. TikTok in general has a large base of younger users — according to statistics site Statista, about 25% of TikTok users are are between 10 and 19 years old. However, as TikTok has grown, the majority of its users are now adults.

The trend has enough momentum to generate quite a bit of conversation about the “disturbingvideos online. Interestingly, every trending post we encountered came from users who encountered the video through TikTok’s For You page, which is an algorithm-based personalized feed that delivers content that, according to him, will appeal to users. This is a big part of why TikTok is so popular. You never know what video may appear next.

This viral Twitter feed is full of people posting clips that were apparently recommended to them on their For You page.

In the majority of these videos, a person is seen on camera, usually filmed from the shoulders up. They often lie on a bed and fake sex with a seemingly non-existent or imaginary partner just off camera. Sometimes creators start doing something mundane, like eating or reading a book. In some streams, they talk with their followers as usual, as if nothing had happened, while following the movements.

Now, this is the internet. Videos are weird, but in the hierarchy of weird stuff online, it doesn’t rank anywhere near the top. But again, this is against TikTok policies. And it’s clear from at least some of these videos that the people in the clips are monetizing their performances, sometimes receive gifts in chat from their viewers through TikTok’s Live Gifting program, which can then be turned into cash.

What East It should be noted here, however, that TikTok seems to be promoting these videos to users who don’t want to see them at all.

It’s important to note that platforms like TikTok and Instagram have become increasingly hostile to sex workers, leaving many scrambling to find sources of income or a new audience. It’s possible this trend started as such – or maybe it’s just a trend.

TikTok’s recommendation algorithm is known to be oddly allowed with what type of content its users want to to have. Unsurprisingly, it seems that these live videos also get a lot of engagement, which likely informs the algorithm to recommend the live streams more, even to those who don’t want them. Users can flag videos and inform the app that they are not interested in specific content, only after watching it.

In addition to the removal of the stream, TikTok prohibits users who post such content from being able to use the platform’s live video feature. TikTok declined to comment on the filing.

TikTok isn’t the only platform having trouble with mobile live streaming. Streaming content has long been a challenge for social media platforms, as automated systems that typically flag problematic uploaded clips will often miss the same type of content in a live video. In the aftermath of the Christchurch mass shootings in 2019, for example, Facebook came under heavy criticism as live video of the terror attack streamed onto its platform. YouTube recently faced backlash after limiting the number of viewers on live streams from users with low subscriber counts, a precautionary measure to limit banned live content on its platform.

Either way, based on user complaints, it seems like these live videos continue to proliferate on TikTok’s For You page.

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