Who doesn’t like eating?
We all make that mistake at some point in our lives. Whether it’s food dipped in sauce, frozen yogurt, or just plain plain ol’ cake. Still, it’s always more fun to watch someone else do it for yourself.
The recently-acquired TikTok app created by ByteDance could make that fun experience for those of us who do not have the ability to eat something more complicated than “just a bite.”
The app allows you to create and upload videos of yourself eating anything imaginable. (We’re not buying into the “of course it makes sense” argument.) In its own interview, ByteDance admits that the concept was inspired by binge eating disorder in teenagers.
“The market opportunity is an important one for ByteDance and we are committed to giving families and kids a fun and safe way to share their favourite foods, whether it’s at a BBQ, at school or with friends,” the company explained.
But a new report by Forbes says the app is filled with pro-eating disorder content. A+E Networks claimed to have reviewed more than 100,000 TikTok videos, and found that 68 percent contained content that contained content of a “pro-eating disorder orientation.”
Adding to that, Forbes reports, is that the app’s content guidelines allow for users to upload live video of “something they’re passionate about” as long as it includes “food.”
Conspicuously absent from that list? Eating disorders.
That’s the problem. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, nearly one-fifth of adults currently live with an eating disorder, which the average person experiences in her life by the age of 18. It’s estimated that 75 percent of people with eating disorders started their activity to spite a family member or friend.
As the app’s leaders tell us, however, that may not be the case.
Here’s what TikTok founder and CEO Jia Shen told Forbes about the issue, “The fact that TikTok is not specifically aimed at teens just like Snapchat is an important feature.”
“TikTok’s ease of use and powerful sharing features also make it attractive to millennials who are not exclusively interested in fast-food,” he said.
“They may just watch videos that they love, and the fact that there’s no offensive content found to be disturbing on TikTok makes it more-innovative and healthy than [other] apps,” Shen said.
According to Forbes, the offending content typically comes from sites like Kaboodle, which referred to the epidemic as “Binge Eating Disorder Fun” a month after Facebook acquired the company. Perhaps if we tried too hard to explain TikTok’s conceptual appeal, we’d just be spoiled.