Report: 18 Million TikTok Users in the United States Are 14 Years Old or Younger

If Microsoft or another company acquires ByteDance-owned TikTok before the US President Donald Trump bans the short video app in the United States, it will acquire a massive community of devoted followers as well as a lucrative platform for selling advertisements. However, it may also be purchasing a large population of users who are 14 years old or younger.

The TikTok app is clearly popular with younger people, and the NY Times recently reported that a third of TikTok users in the United States is 14 years old or younger. The New York Times reviewed internal company data and documents and found that a third of TikTok’s 49 million daily active users in the US is 14 years old or younger. This also raises questions over whether the Chinese-owned video platform is doing enough to protect children on its platform. Furthermore, this may also cause potential buyers to reconsider acquiring the TikTok app.

Back in July of this year, TikTok classified nearly 18 million of its daily active US users as 14 years old or younger, while 20 million daily active users in the United States were classified as over-14. The company classified the rest of the users as an unknown age. Although some of those 18 million daily active TikTok users in the United States are likely to be 13 or 14 years old, The New York Times reported that a former TikTok employee stated that clips from children who appeared to be even younger than 13 or 14 were also allowed to remain on TikTok’s platform for weeks.

The TikTok app asks users for a birth date when they register an account on the platform, and users in the United States who say that they are younger than 13 years old, can only access a walled-off mode within the TikTok app. Users under 13 cannot share personal videos or information on the platform. However, users under 13 can also lie about their age to get around TikTok’s age restrictions, and the TikTok app does not obtain consent from guardians of users.

The COPPA (Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act) in the United States requires online platforms to obtain the permission of guardians before collecting personal information of children who are younger than 13 years old. If TikTok is found to violate this rule, the company could face hefty fines.

Photo: Narinder Nanu/Afp via Getty Images

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