WSJ’s deep dive into eating disorder rabbit holes on TikTok explains a sudden policy change

WSJ’s deep dive into eating disorder rabbit holes on TikTok explains a sudden policy change


Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

A troubling report from the Wall Street Journal digs into the personal experiences of young girls who were sent down rabbit holes of extreme weight loss challenges, purging techniques, and deadly diets through TikTok, contributing to the development of eating disorders, or making existing ones worse. The WSJ did its own experiment to see how TikTok’s algorithm can potentially promote this kind of harmful content — its findings may explain TikTok’s sudden decision to alter the way its video recommendation system operates.

As detailed in the report, the WSJ created over 100 accounts “that browsed the app with little human intervention,” 12 of which were bots registered to 13-year-olds that spent time on videos surrounding weight loss,…

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