Are You Too Ugly for TikTok?

Christine Vann, MSc.
6 min readDec 9, 2021

The viral app filters our kids’ faces with a beauty algorithm straight out of Black Mirror while we’re busy focusing on Facebook’s misdemeanors.

Are you too Ugly for TikTok? How our kids’ facesare filtered with a dystopian beauty app
Image source: 475090294 by Petrovv on Depositphotos.com

Scrolling through TikTok, I can see how it bewitches kids.

One minute a pig meanders through the mountains; the following adorable puppies clamor for food until three teens doing a funny trick involving their mouths and a credit card demand your attention.

Let’s face it, TikTok is fun, like bubble gum for your eyes.

And that is precisely how the video app has danced its way into Gen Z’s hearts, taking over Instagram as the second most popular app in 2020 among US teens and raking in a cool $34.3 billion.

With Instagram and Facebook, scratch the glossy veneer, and you’ll see a sinister side. TikTok is no exception.

The only difference is, while we (rightly) vilify Zuckerberg, no one, despite India’s ban, Italy’s probe, and Trumps’ short-lived concerns, seems to condemn TikTok’s CEO.

But with the New York Times estimates that a third of its users may be 14 or under, isn’t it time we found out more?

Is TikTok the new Facebook?

TikTok, a short-form video app, launched in 2017 and blew up during the pandemic. In September, its Chinese owner, Bytedance, announced it had more than 1 billion monthly users.

It’s the first app — not owned by Zuckerberg — to pass 3 billion downloads. That’s impressive, considering there are ‘only’ 5.3bn mobile phone users in the world.

But it’s not just the stratospheric rise of TikTok that reminds us of Facebook back when. It’s the release of the TikTok login toolkit in May this year. With this humble feature, you can log into hundreds of apps using your TikTok account instead of Facebook, transforming TikTok into your portal to the internet.

A development that had Zuckerberg spitting up his Gatorade, I’m sure.

Does TikTok have a sinister side?

Thanks to Frances Haugen’s three-hour testimony before a Senate Subcommittee, we now know for sure Zuckerberg puts profit before the well-being of kids. In contrast, TikTok’s dark side is more opaque.

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Christine Vann, MSc.

SEO writer & owner of parenting site Bumpsnbeyond.com. Interests: consumer & cyberpsychology. Contact me Christine@Bumpsnbeyond.com