Social media Big Tech giants like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook are under some tough scrutiny and for good reason.

In the last few weeks, investigative teams at The Wall Street Journal have published several major stories on Big Tech’s targeting strategies and their impact on young people. As Kyle Bass, founder and principal of Hayman Capital Management, LP told CNBC’s Squawk Box, “Tiktok’s algorithm can influence the thinking of U.S. youth.”

In fact, as part of its investigation, The Wall Street Journal created dozens of fictional profile accounts on TikTok and found the company’s algorithms not only could predict users’ likes and wants, but in some cases, the systems guided users to some very deviant content.

The investigation – How TikTok Serves Up Sex and Drug Videos to Minors – says this…

An analysis of the videos served to these accounts found that through its powerful algorithms, TikTok can quickly drive minors—among the biggest users of the app—into endless spools of content about sex and drugs.

TikTok served one account registered as a 13-year-old at least 569 videos about drug use, references to cocaine and meth addiction, and promotional videos for online sales of drug products and paraphernalia. Hundreds of similar videos appeared in the feeds of the Journal’s other minor accounts.

TikTok also showed the Journal’s teenage users more than 100 videos from accounts recommending paid pornography sites and sex shops. Thousands of others were from creators who labeled their content as for adults only.

Still others encouraged eating disorders and glorified alcohol, including depictions of drinking and driving and of drinking games.

Other accounts ended up lost in “rabbit holes” of content about depression, eating disorders, sexualizing minors and even discussions of suicide.

Pair this story with headlines from morning television news shows on Friday, September 17th of internal reports at Instagram talking about the social media platform’s impacts on mental health and a viral TikTok challenge encouraging students to vandalize bathrooms, and it becomes abundantly clear that Big Tech has tactics to target you and your family.

Here are Five Things to Keep in Mind about Social Media…

  1. Social Media apps are designed to pull you in…and keep you there.
  2. The developers of these apps are companies out for a profit and will expend millions of dollar to keep you coming back.
  3. Over a period of time, the content available on a user’s social media feed can become largely unchecked by Big Tech’s content reviewers – leaving viewers wide open to a multitude of unfiltered ideas.
  4. Social Media apps are driving people to deviant behavior including illicit sex, drug usage, human trafficking, suicide, and more.
  5. These apps are causing large-scale division across all facets of society under the guise of “entertainment.”

As families, it is important that we recognize these tactics and have discussions with everyone in our homes about the dangers of social media on thoughts, self-understanding, and actions.

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