CHILD abuse campaigners have called for TikTok to be banned in the UK after it perverts reportedly caught grooming kids on the site were only handed one-week suspensions.
Disgusted parents and campaigners have previously warned the app is a “magnet for paedophiles” after The Sun Online revealed children as young as eight were being targeted by predators and bombarded with sexually explicit messages.
Leaked documents have now revealed TikTok only suspended users for a week if they were caught messaging children in a sexual manner.
That increased to a month for a second offence and then eventually a permanent ban when they were reported for a third time.
Former moderators at TikTok told The Daily Telegraph this meant paedophiles were allowed back on the app with the same accounts, potentially allowing them to continue grooming children.
Former moderators at the app said they were each told to prioritise monitoring up to 1,000 videos a day, rather than regularly checking reported messages.
One ex-moderator said that while they had to view flagged videos within 15 minutes, reported messages would sometimes not be seen for days, with the backlog sometimes reaching more than 1,000.
Former employees estimated around one in 10 messages flagged was due to adults messaging kids inappropriately and one ex-employee said that when they went into children’s accounts they sometimes saw as many as 10 different adults messaging them.
The Children’s Charities’ Coalition on Internet Safety, an umbrella group for child protection organisations, called for a ban on TikTok from the UK.
However Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Britain had no plans to ban the app.
It comes as it emerged TikTok was considering London as its global HQ but is reconsidering because of tensions between the UK and Beijing.
TikTok’s parent company ByteDance has been in discussions with officials from the Department for International Trade and No 10 to establish a worldwide base in Britain, creating 3,000 jobs.
However The Sunday Times reported ByteDance has made the decision to suspend those negotiations due to the “wider geopolitical context”.
It comes amid increasing tensions between London and Beijing, stemming from the UK Government’s criticism of the Hong Kong security law and the recent decision to ban Huawei from the country’s 5G network.
The Sun Online has previously reported how kids, often dressed in their school uniform, have been messaged by creepy strangers underneath videos of them performing to music.
TikTok, which has been downloaded more than a billion times in 150 countries, is meant for those aged 13 and over. But it’s simple for users to lie about their age.
Last year the Sun Online launched a TikTok Time Bomb series – to raise awareness of the risks and urge the site to be better moderated so kids are not left to protect themselves online.
Campaigners have warned of the risks of young people falling prey to paedophiles on the app.
Andy Burrows, NSPCC head of child safety online policy, previously told the Sun Online: “Serious questions need to be asked about TikTok’s moderation practices if users are able to freely post sexually suggestive comments to children.”
In response to the leaked documents detailing the company’s policy for users found messaging children, TikTok said it has a “zero tolerance” approach to child abuse and the policies described by former moderators had since been updated.
A spokesman for TikTok told the Telegraph: “Keeping people on TikTok safe is a top priority. Many of the claims brought to our attention refer to outdated practices, policies and processes that are no longer in place.
“We have a zero-tolerance response on child sexual abuse material and direct messaging is disabled for all under-16 users.
“All explicit and suspected grooming behaviours detected in direct messaging are escalated in a timely manner to our internal Child Safety Team based in Dublin to investigate the account.
“In line with best-practice international standards, we report all necessary information to the National Centre for Missing and Exploited Children or law enforcement, and ban the offending user.”