TikTok blocks access to under-13s after girl’s death

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(ANSA) – ROME, FEB 3 – Chinese video sharing platform TikTok
has blocked access to the under-13s and will assess artificial
intelligence systems to verify users’ ages after the death last
month of a 10-year-old Palermo girl who tied her belt around her
neck in a Blackout Challenge, the company told Italy’s privacy
watchdog Wednesday after the authority had blocked the platform
due to the outcry.
    TikTok will also launch an awareness-raising campaign for
parents and children, it said.
    The watchdog said it would assess the effectiveness of the
measures announced by TikTok.
    The girl’s death on January 21 was followed on January 28 by the
case of a 48-year-old woman influencer from Siracusa, also in
Sicily, who was cited by postal police for allegedly instigating
suicide by posting a video on TikTok showing a man and a woman
wrapping adhesive tape around their mouths and noses so they
could not breathe in another Blackout Challenge.
    The privacy watchdog, meanwhile widened its probe into the case
of he Palermo girl by asking Facebook and Instagram for
information on how she had been able
to open accounts on their platforms.
    Facebook said it would collaborate fully with the investigation.
    In the case of the Siracusa influencer, police said they had
found out that she had posted other challenge videos that had
helped her amass over 730,000 followers of various ages.
    They found around 20 videos of dangerous challenges including
inhaling cream through the nose, closing your eyelids with
pincers, and pretending to break an arm with saucepans.
    All the challenges were performed by the influencer.
    All the videos posted by the woman, who has children of her own,
were removed.
    TikTok Europe Child Safety Head Alexandra Evans said Wednesday
that “the safety of people who are part of the TikTok community
is our absolute priority.
    “Talking of protecting our users, especially the younger ones,
there is no final goal, and therefore our work in this sphere
will not stop. That is why we are continuing to invest in
people, processes and technology that help keep our community a
safe space for positive and creative expression”. (ANSA).


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