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Anti-vaccine TikTok videos being viewed by children as young as nine

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Lies and conspiracy theories about Covid-19, which have amassed millions of views and are accessible to young children, have remained on the social media platform TikTok for months after it was alerted to them, the Guardian has learned.

TikTok accounts with hundreds of thousands of followers that discourage vaccination and peddle myths about Covid survival rates were uncovered by Newsguard, an organisation that monitors online misinformation.

Newsguard said it had flagged the dangerous content to TikTok in June but many of the accounts remained active on the platform.

The revelation comes amid renewed concern about the impact that social media is having on young people, after it was reported that Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, had internal research showing its app was harming teenagers.

As part of its investigation, Newsguard said children as young as nine had been able to access the content, despite TikTok only permitting full access to the app for those aged 13 and over.

Three participants in the organisation’s research who were under 13 were able to create accounts on the app by entering fake dates of birth.

TikTok told the Guardian it worked diligently to take action on content and accounts that spread misinformation.

Photo – EPA-EFE/HAYOUNG JEON

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