Musical.ly, a video app popular with children and teenagers, has come under fire for its failure to tackle and keep up with the widespread sharing of dangerous content.
The platform, which allows users to post quick lip-syncing videos, has been heavily condemned by concerned parents for allowing content that features harmful messages such as self harm encouragement, eating disorder ‘thinspiration’ and sexually suggestive footage.
While Musical.ly is aimed at teenagers and rated for users aged 13 and over, it also appears that some users may be even younger than recommended.
An investigation by Buzzfeed found that the app was struggling to keep up with the safety filters, guidance and rules implemented by other teen-friendly social media like Instagram and Tumblr.
Criticism spread online after it was recently discovered that hashtags like #selfhate and #cutting were freely available for users to share on and browse through. Last week, the hashtag #proana showed more than 1,300 results.
More coded phrasing like #sxy also worryingly featured young teenagers performing suggestive dance moves.
Following the outcry and alarming safety concerns, Musical.ly last week blocked some of the search terms that were discovered and queried.
However, Musical.ly’s peer apps seem much further ahead in the game.
Tumblr began banning eating disorder promotion in 2012, while searching phrases such as ‘self-harm’ or ‘eating disorder’ on Instagram will deliver a pop up to steer you towards support resources. On Tumblr, the search proves completely unavailable.
Following another revealing discussion of the app by a concerned mother on Medium, Musical.ly told Buzzfeed that ‘its process for banning terms from search is always evolving’.
Musical.ly also insisted that it is considering adding features similar to Instagram’s pop up support.
Metro has reached out to Musical.ly for comment.
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