The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) cited three examples of this in a Feb. 15 report, with the first one involving 42-year-old Grady Moffett Sr. from Alabama. Moffett posted a video of himself lip-syncing to music and sharing depressive thoughts, to which a 14-year-old girl from Texas responded. Further exchanges visible on the platform referenced Moffett and the girl being "married for life" – to the disgust of many who were able to read the comments.
In March 2022, Moffett hopped on a westward bus to meet with the girl, only to be arrested several days later. He was indicted on charges related to alleged sexual assault of a child and was booked into a county jail in Fort Worth. "I fell in love with her," Moffett admitted.
In 2021, 22-year-old Florida resident Christian Sandoval exchanged phone numbers with a 13-year-old girl on TikTok. He subsequently sent her pictures of his private parts and coached the girl to videotape herself naked and send the videos to him.
The girl's mother discovered the exchanges and called the police, who then arrested Sandoval. He pleaded guilty in April 2022 to producing child pornography and was sentenced to more than 19 years behind bars.
Californian James Anthony Gonzales posed as a 13-year-old boy on TikTok to initiate sexually explicit conversations with at least 21 underage girls. According to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, he found the address of a nine-year-old girl and posed as a food delivery driver.
But the girl's mother was not convinced and called law enforcement. Gonzales pleaded no contest to charges of possession of child pornography and lewd acts on a child. He was sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison for these. (Related: Parents not comfortable allowing their children to use Chinese app TikTok, poll reveals.)
According to the WSJ, the app owned by Beijing-based ByteDance "has been a magnet for children and teens, who spend more time there each day than on any other social media platform. Billions of videos are uploaded to the site each month, many starring young people singing, dancing and talking about their personal lives." Thus, many experts have warned of the app's dangers – zeroing in on the algorithm that allows users to see the content they want to see.
"The audience that's following these children, a lot of them are adult males that have a sexual interest in children," said police veteran Jon Rouse. "Child sex offenders will gravitate toward those where there are children. Pedophiles prefer looking at videos."
Waco, Texas police detective Joseph Scaramucci seconded Rouse's remarks, saying: "You have young kids dancing and showing their lives all over TikTok. It makes it a one-stop shop for people looking to exploit them."
Both experts have substantial backgrounds in law enforcement. The 38-year-old Rouse leads a unit targeting child sex offenders at the International Criminal Police Organization, commonly dubbed Interpol. Scaramucci, meanwhile, is a volunteer task force officer at the Department of Homeland Security's main investigations arm.
The company responded to the allegations, saying it takes steps to protect younger users and constantly works to improve them. According to a TikTok spokesperson, the platform uses technology to screen posts, including captions and comments.
Items that raise concerns are then forwarded to human reviewers, though the spokesperson declined to disclose how many human screeners are employed by the company. They added that content harmful to minors is reported to authorities as required by law.
Suzy Loftus, TikTok's global head of risk and response operations, reached out to the WSJ following the publication of its Feb. 15 report.
She denounced child sexual abuse and exploitation on the platform as "abhorrent," adding that when the company becomes aware of such content, "we take immediate action to remove it, terminate accounts and report cases."
Watch Newsmax host John Tabacco explain why everyone should be worried about TikTok in the interview below.
This video is from the NewsClips channel on Brighteon.com.