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TikTok’s extreme diet clips ‘fuel eating disorders’ as algorithm bombards image-conscious teens, research finds

  • Investigative journalists made a discovery after creating fake teenage profiles
  • Tiktok’s algorithm flooded accounts with tens of thousands of diet posts
  • Chinese-owned TikTok recently became the world’s most downloaded app
  • TikTok said it would adjust its recommendation algorithm to protect its users










Tiktok has been promoting extreme weight loss videos to teenage users which experts say could lead to eating disorders, according to a survey.

Investigative journalists have created a dozen fake profiles registered as 13-year-olds on the video-sharing platform, which recently became the most downloaded application in the world.

They discovered that in just a few weeks, TikTok’s algorithm was flooding the accounts with tens of thousands of diet posts.

Several recommended consuming only water while some provided advice on how to eat less than 300 calories a day and suggested taking laxatives for overeating.

Other posts showed emaciated girls with protruding bones, a ‘corpse bride diet’ and shaming those who give up losing weight with ‘disgusting’.

Experts have previously warned that the app’s algorithm could send users down narrow interest rabbit holes, which can lead to potentially dangerous videos.

TikTok has since said it will adjust its recommendation algorithm to avoid showing users too much of the same content — including extreme diets — to protect their mental wellbeing.

An investigation found that Tiktok was promoting extreme weight loss videos to teenagers which experts say could lead to eating disorders

The Chinese company, whose global monthly users topped 1 billion this year, made the announcement days after being approached by the Wall Street Journal, which conducted the investigation.

In response, TikTok said it continues to invest in removing content that violates its rules.

An estimated 1.25 million Britons suffer from an eating disorder, according to charity Beat.

Hope Virgo, a mental health campaigner who has spoken out about her eating disorder, said she has seen ‘firsthand the impact of social media on young people’ through her work in schools across the Kingdom -United.

She told the Daily Mail: ‘[Dieting content] causes so many individuals, adults and children, to question their bodies and their daily food decisions.

“In order to create an environment where eating disorders do not thrive, TikTok and other social media sites need to take responsibility and address these issues urgently.”

In total, more than 32,000 weight loss videos were sent to fake profiles from October to this month. Some showed none.

Chinese-owned TikTok recently became the world's most downloaded app and its global monthly users topped 1 billion this year

Chinese-owned TikTok recently became the world’s most downloaded app and its global monthly users topped 1 billion this year

Once TikTok’s algorithms determined they would review the clips, they quickly began to deliver more, until diet and fitness content made up more than half of their content. flow, even without it being sought. Many have encouraged fasting and offered advice on how to burn stomach fat fast.

Posts also managed to bypass app monitors by slightly modifying the hashtags or text of the videos, such as writing d1s0rder instead of mess.

A TikTok spokesperson said, “While this experience does not reflect the experience most people have on TikTok, even one person with this experience is one too many.”

They added that “content that promotes, normalizes or glorifies eating disorders is prohibited.”