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Teens and TikTok - Risk for ratings

Written by Drue - 16yrs

In the ever-evolving world of TikTok, trends change, and what people are interested in changes.


One current trend involves young girls taking pictures of themselves, posting them on TikTok, and asking the people watching to rate them (yes, their physical appearance) in the comments. By asking people a question that requires them to respond, they increase the video rating. This is a way for teens to gain likes and comments to widen their audience, just one possible reason for this trend.


As the young adults that we are, heading into our late teenage years, we need to find ourselves or, if not, at least to fit in, to try and feel good about ourselves. As a teenager, I understand the pressure of trying to fit in either at school or outside of school. I understand how for whatever reason, the social settings at school require you to change who you are so that you don't bring attention to yourself for being different or not following the trends. It is not a bad thing to want to fit in; it's pretty normal until it gets to the point where you need someone else's approval to feel accepted.


The information below should help to explain why this could be occurring, how these videos are generated through TikTok, and how it can be unsafe to post personal pictures of yourself.


What are TikTok Ratings?

As a video gains more and more like, its rating increases. This means it is spread to a larger audience, where more people will view it. As the video gets a higher rating, it increases the chance of being recommended on people's 'For You' page.

How do they work (algorithm etc.)?

The TikTok algorithm regulates what people are most interested in, allowing it to show up on the 'For You' page. It begins by displaying a range of videos, all from different categories such as 'DIY' or 'Comedy,' and from each video you watch, it will pick out the ones you linger most on. The more videos that you interact with from the same genre, the more that will pop up on your 'For You' page. In the same way, if you have posted a video that other people are sharing, commenting on, and liking, it will spread to a broader audience.

An experiment was done on TikTok where a group created ten 'bots' posing as people on TikTok to see how fast the TikTok algorithm would find their interests. In most cases, it took only forty minutes to two hours for the TikTok algorithm to work out everything it needed to about this "person." TikTok only needs three things:

  1. Music

  2. Hashtags

  3. Location

TikTok uses an algorithm that caters to what you are interested in. From the videos you like or comment on to the videos you stop or linger on. TikTok uses this little information to personalize your 'For You' page.

Guillaume Chaslot is the founder of Algotransperancy, he worked on the algorithm for Youtube, and he says that TikTok finds the videos which will "make you click, that will make you watch."

Overall, the TikTok algorithm constantly changes and adapts to what interests people most. The videos correspond with what you watch most and what is receiving the most likes, comments, and shares.

What are the risks involved with sharing personal photos like mentioned above

There are many risks to sharing personal photos on any platform. Smartphones make it very easy to take and exchange pictures, and although it is good to share special moments over a social media network with family and friends, it is not always safe.

Joseph Turow is a professor of communication at the Annenberg School of Communication; he says, "the more photos reflect the context of a person and their relationship to others, the more that person can be denoted by their location, which allows hackers greater access to personal information."

By sharing personal photos, there is always a chance that this information will be shared or used to hack into accounts. All images contain dates, locations, etc., which can be used to collect personal information. When a photo is shared, it uploads the metadata of this specific photo. 'Metadata' contains information such as camera model or shutter speed, including the camera's identifier number and GPS coordinates from where the picture was taken. When shared over social media, it can be dangerous.

With the number of social media posts flying around the internet, it is sometimes hard to decipher what is real and what is fake. No matter what age they are or their social standing on social media, everyone is imperfect, which is what makes us who we are. Self-esteem is one of the significant contributors to how people see themselves and a major contributor to how they want others to see them.

We are putting ourselves all over TikTok, spending hours taking the right picture/video and finally posting it just so that we can be rated and commented on. This might make us feel good about ourselves for a short amount of time, our self-esteem might grow for a few hours, and we might feel great, but in reality, this probably won't last. It's a way for young adults to grow in their self-esteem, "fit in," and perhaps create a space where they feel accepted. Even if it isn't truly who they are.

Teens could use this trend for many different reasons, but the main one is to gain a higher rating and audience on TikTok. This trend might be taking a bit of a risk; it is essential to express yourself in your way, but it's always good to think about your safety on social media first.



I’m 16, and I joined the Youth Committee as I believe it will be such a significant learning experience that will go towards the security of the online world.

I believe social media is such a large part of today’s world, positively and negatively impacting individuals and society.

Hopefully, through the Youth Committee, I can help create a safer online space for everyone.


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