TikTok asks kids to send money in exchange for influencers’ phone numbers

The creators of TikTok, a video-sharing social media platform, have been accused of ‘exploiting’ their youngest fans, demanding money in exchange for access to excusive benefits, information security services experts reported.

This platform allows fans to send ‘digital gifts’ to their favorite content creators; these gifts can cost up to $50. Reports claim that some TikTok influencers promised users to share their personal phone numbers when purchasing one of these digital gifts.

Upon receiving the reports, TikTok assured its users that it would implement some measures to prevent this from happening again, although it did not specify what policy changes the platform would make. A platform user, who due to her age will remain anonymous, claims that she spent more than $100 USD to get the phone number of her favorite TikTok content creator. “I tried to call him many times, but he never answered the phone”, she says.

Recounting her case for information security services experts, the user, just 12 years old, lives in the north of England, from where she sent digital gifts to the content creator known as Sebastian Moy.  Based in the United States, Moy has more than 3.8 million fans on TikTok and, it has been confirmed, has not breached any of the policies set by the creators of this app.

Some media and members of the cybersecurity community have tried to contact Moy, although the content creator has not responded to requests.

The developers of TikTok claim that the app is mainly popular among young people between the ages of 16 and 20. In previous times they have already been fined up to $4.5M USD for collecting information from children under the age of 13. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is also investigating the company.

According to information security services specialists from the International Institute of Cyber Security (IICS) content creators in TikTok who have more than a thousand followers are enabled to perform live broadcasts from where they can ask their fans for these digital gifts. In exchange, content creators give fans access to participation in their videos, live shout outs, among other benefits. Although the platform has never revealed what percentage it takes from the streamers’ profits, some creators claim that TikTok takes 50% of their earnings.