The Pornification and Juxtaposition Of TikTok Videos
What Kids and Parents Need To Know
We at the White Hatter Team have our own TikTok page, primarily to allow us to understand the “how” and “why” of the culture-specific to this social media platform. We have seen some really cool and creative uses of TikTok by youth, but recently it was brought to our attention by a teen who had heard us speak at their school, that there is a darker side that is of significant concern that most adults and teens are unaware of. As we conducted our investigation specific to the content of this article, we were able to confirm that this darker side does exist, but we WILL NOT be providing any links to the sites we located given their adult content. It’s also important to note that although this article is specific to TikTok, the same thing is happening on other social networks and apps that allow personal image sharing to be posted such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube to name a few. As we have always said, “it’s not the app, it’s how some will use the app that creates problems.”
TikTok, which was rebranded in 2017 when it was called musicall.ly, is owned by a Chinese company called ByteDance. Since its release, it has become one of the most popular apps to be downloaded by teens throughout the world. The TikTok app allows users to create short video clips that can be lip-synced to music, or to create short looping 60-second comedic video clips. Recently, TikTok has garnered significant attention given its privacy issues, remember it is owned by a Chinese company, as well as some of its adult language and hypersexualized content which is not age appropriate for youth. To create a TikTok account you need to be 13, but there is no age verification structure within TikTok to prove that someone is actually 13 and not an 11yr old who is lying about their age. It has been our anecdotal experience that there are many teens under the age of 13 on this App.
Although the issues of privacy and hyper-sexualized content specific to TikTok should be concerning to parents, it was brought to our attention, by one of our teen followers, that there is a greater concern especially for young teens called, “TikTok porn Juxtaposition.” According to the Merrian-Webster Dictionary, Juxtaposition is, “the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side often to compare or contrast or to create an interesting effect”
TikTok presently has a function called Duet, which allows a user to use a split-screen with a friend, or even a celebrity, to mirror a dance, song or to create a reaction or entirely new video. This is actually a really cool feature that we have used on our TikTok page
However, according to the teen who connected with us, over the past year there has been a growing underground movement known as “TikTok porn groups” which are found online in places like subreddits. In these groups, they copy TikTok’s of young people who have posted a hypersexualized video and create their own pornified duet where they juxtapose a faceless video of themselves masturbating and ejaculating in the video. Again, this video is not posted to TikTok, but in more hidden (but searchable) areas online as TikTok videos posted can be downloaded and shared away from the app. We confirmed the existence of these subreddits, and actually viewed the videos contained in these very disturbing groups. It should also be noted that the young girls aren’t actually consensually participating in these porn groups, but rather their videos, which they have often posted innocently, have been hijacked without their knowledge and then pornified. These juxtaposed videos are then posted to these subreddits to allow other to sexually objectify them while they masturbate. Again, although these videos are located in more hidden areas online, they are searchable and identifiable to a TikTok user who has no idea that this has happened. Given this fact, these morphed videos could become public or even used for the purpose of sextortion.
Having said all this, there have been some teen users who innocently started out on TikTok or other platforms, but once they hit the age of 18yrs, sexually monetize their followers by creating private “premium” accounts on sites like onlyfans.com or private Snapchat accounts. Nude OnlyFans or private Snapchats accounts are used by popular creators such as Twitch streamers.
We were able to identify one teen who garnered hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok because of their dance moves, and then once they turned 18, created an OnlyFans page. On this private subscription-based account, this 18yr old teen did the same TikTok dance moves fully naked. It was estimated that through their OnlyFans account, they were taking in more than $90,000 a month.
What Is A Parent To Do?
Although you have to be 13yrs to join TikTok, and other popular social media platforms as well, we have been saying for a while now that we don’t recommend TikTok for teens under the age of 16yrs without direct adult supervision.
Talk to your kids early about how onlife media can often sexually objectify young women in ways that they may not understand, and the consequences this can have emotionally, psychologically, physically and socially. Use this posting, in an age-appropriate way, to demonstrate this fact.
Every video that was copied from TikTok, and then unknowingly pornified via juxtaposition in these TikTok porn groups, the teen was wearing very little clothing and/or dancing or posing in a highly sexualized way. Although they may be attempting to emulate a TikTok influencer or viral challenge, they are likely not aware of how these types of TikTok videos are being abused by others sexually. Strongly caution your teens against recording and distributing such behaviour.
Many of the hypersexualized TikTok’s that we observed were created by teens in their bedroom or bathroom. This is yet another reason why to not allow pre-teens and younger teens to use tech in their bedrooms or bathrooms.
Know what apps your kids are downloading, and know what your kids are doing on these Apps. In a recent interview we conducted with both middle and high school students, over 1/3 of the teens reported that they did not tell their parents that they had downloaded TikTok onto their device(1).
Again, we think there are some cool things that teens are producing on TikTok, and most are using the app reasonably. Having said this, we believe that it is not presently an app that is appropriate for those under the age of 16 unless under the direct or indirect (monitoring software) supervision of a parent or other trusted adult. If your teen is using TikTok, or any other social media platform, one of the ways to prevent the misuse of their video; ensure that it does not contain hypersexualized behaviour. TikTok has announced that they will soon be releasing new parental controls to help with some of its content. This is a good first step, but we do have some questions specific to privacy issues given that a parent will be required to download the App onto their device. Given a current court case in the USA where TikTok is being sued for collecting personal and private information of a user’s phone without their consent, we are hesitant about any parent downloading TikTok to their personal cellphone until this issue has been clarified by an independent third party (2). An option, use a secondary “burner” phone that contains no personal information where there is a decreased risk to personal privacy.
We also want to emphasize the fact that this issue is not just TikTok centric and is happening on other social media platforms as well. Sexualized images on Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and others all have the ability to be copied and edited being even more sexual or fully nude. We have also seen cases where a picture someone posted online fully clothed was edited and morphed to display their face on a naked body. Remember, everything we do online is public, permanent, searchable, exploitable, copiable, morphable and can sometimes be unknowingly used by others in ways that can come back to haunt us at a later date.
The White Hatter Team
(1) White Hatter Instagram Survey: