TikTok Unleashes Desperate ‘Youth Council’ Amid Ban Threats

March 25th, 2024 3:50 PM

Under pressure after the passage of bipartisan House legislation, toxic and anti-free speech TikTok has a strange new strategy: turn teenagers into decision-makers.

TikTok has come under fire for its ties to the communist Chinese government, harmful algorithms for young users, bias and censorship. Amid the backlash, the app is attempting to assuage fears with various tactics, including a new “Youth Council” for teenagers to give input. But will any root problems be addressed?

A March 25 press release from TikTok explained the Youth Council comprises 15 teens aged 15 to 18 from around the world. The council is reportedly prioritizing “teen well-being and inclusion.” Moreover, TikTok is redesigning both its Youth Portal feature, which provides resources, and advertising its parental controls, especially for concerned U.S. parents.

The press release did not address the fact the Chinese government-tied app has been involved in bias and censorship for years. MRC Free Speech America ranked TikTok among the worst censors of 2023 for its boastful removal of hundreds of thousands of videos about the Israel-Hamas war. In February, TikTok continued this policy trend by establishing a team of thousands of “content moderators” (i.e., censors) to suppress free speech ahead of upcoming European Union elections.

TikTok is also increasingly under fire for its security risks. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) owns a board seat and maintains a financial stake in TikTok’s parent company ByteDance. A 2023 lawsuit alleged that a “backdoor” through ByteDance enabled the CCP to access U.S. user data. Bipartisan TikTok-banning legislation passed the House but has yet to pass the Senate. President Joe Biden voiced his willingness to sign the bill if it did pass.

Besides the national security risks, there are also the mental health risks for the very teens TikTok claims to promote. By late 2023, evidence indicates that a few hours on TikTok turned up potentially harmful content for mental health in one out of two videos in automated accounts. The new TikTok release claimed a focus on addressing bullying and body image issues.

Repeated mentions of U.S. parents and kids throughout the press release indicated TikTok’s endeavors to appease Americans amidst ban threats. TikTok quoted a 15-year-old American Youth Council member enthusing, “I found the first meeting to be super exciting and positive.” TikTok’s Youth Council does not address the app’s deepest dangers for Americans, however.

Conservatives are under attack. Contact TikTok via email at communitymanager@tiktok.com and demand Big Tech be held to account to mirror the First Amendment and provide transparency. If you have been censored, contact us at the Media Research Center contact form, and help us hold Big Tech accountable.