August 5, 2020

STATEMENT – TikTok Must Better Protect Kids from Online Predators

White House Press Secretary Says Administration “Would Take a Close Look” at Requiring Rules for Safety on TikTok


Washington, DC (August 5, 2020) – The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) is urging that any action enabling TikTok to continue operating in the U.S. must require additional safeguards to protect children from online predators. Yesterday, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded to a reporter’s question about TikTok saying that the administration “would take a close look” at imposing rules on the platform to better protect children.

“TikTok is on our 2020 Dirty Dozen List of mainstream contributors of sexual exploitation, and as the platform undergoes scrutiny by the Trump Administration, we urge that more safeguards be added to protect children from online predators,” said Patrick A. Trueman, president and CEO of the National Center on Sexual Exploitation.

“While TikTok has added some safety improvements this year, there are still more that need to happen. With more children online due to the pandemic, it is imperative that online social media platforms such as TikTok take every possible step to better protect children,” Trueman said.

“And we urge Congress to pass the ‘EARN IT Act’ (S. 3398) that will ensure that tech companies are accountable for protecting children. ‘EARN IT’ is the best legislative solution pending in Congress.”

During the White House press briefing on August 4, a reporter asked, “This Administration has identified human trafficking as a crisis and has worked to combat it. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation has identified TikTok, an online platform that enables sexual exploitation of young people, especially in America. Would this administration ever consider – if TikTok became a U.S. asset – rules or imposing rules that would help mitigate this risk against young people on the platform TikTok?”

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany responded, saying, “I haven’t spoken to the president about that specific fact scenario. But, absolutely it is priority for this Administration to combat human trafficking and the exploitation of children, so we would certainly take a close look at that.” (Segment can be viewed at https://www.youtube.com/embed/x-KnEhZZcT8 – 1:23:21.)

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation says that these changes should be made to TikTok:

  • Automatically default minors’ accounts to “Private”
  • Automatically default minors’ accounts to “Restricted Mode”
  • Allow users to report problematic accounts without having to open the problematic accounts
  • Implement a more thorough, human-based review process for handling abusive and exploitative accounts
  • Given the inappropriate content that TikTok still allows in its platform, TikTok should raise its age rating in app stores to 17+

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