TikTok is a paedophile magnet, not safe for children - cyber expert

TikTok is a paedophile magnet, not safe for children - cyber expert
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Popular teen social media app TikTok is luring in paedophiles, a cyber expert claims.

A former police cyber safety specialist believes the app isn't safe for kids because of grooming, bullying and privacy fears.

Users only have to be 13 years old to sign up, and unless their profile is private they can be contacted by anyone.

"Any app that allows communication can be used by predators," Susan McLean told Daily Mail Australia.

"TikTok does not have the same safety sessions as some of the more well-known apps and routinely do not remove accounts that have been flagged as potentially a predator."

Users on the app can create and share short videos with music and camera effects. Video trends include dancing and lip-synching to songs, something that McLean said paedophiles "like to watch".

Although TikTok gives its most popular users a verified badge on their profile, regular users don't have to confirm their identity, potentially opening the door for predators to pretend to be someone else.

A 2019 investigation by The Sun claimed UK children as young as eight years old were being targeted and groomed on TikTok.

They said "within minutes" of downloading the app, their investigators were confronted with "deeply disturbing and sexually suggestive comments" underneath videos of young schoolchildren innocently singing and dancing.

Some users were reportedly telling young girls to "show me those legs baby" and described them as "sexy", "hot" and "yummy".

TikTok says they have a "number of tools" in place to control a person's experience on the app, including making their account private to limit who can see their uploaded content, follow and send messages to them.

"With a private account, your teen can approve or deny followers and restrict their uploaded content and incoming messages to followers only," they said on their website.

"If your teen has a public profile, anyone signed into TikTok can view that user's public videos. However, only approved followers can send them a message."

The company's advice for parents is to oversee their teen's use of the app to help keep them safe.