Internet Time Machine

Porn Is Not the Worst Thing on Musical.ly/TikTok

The popular lip-dub app has a dark side

Anastasia Basil
Human Parts
Published in
11 min readMar 5, 2018

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A screenshot I captured on Musical.ly.

MyMy daughter is ten. She wants me to download the Musical.ly app on my phone so she can make funny lip-sync videos. Everyone has it, she whines, even the kid whose mom is an FBI agent/social worker/pediatrician/nun.

Wow. Well. In that case…

I download the app while she’s at school but it won’t let me explore without an account. I create a profile under Chardonaynay47, only to delete that and opt for something less momish — gummibear9.

One word sums up my experience: Nowayismykidgettingthisapp.

Musical.ly (now renamed TikTok) looks innocent — just kids making music videos, and it is that, but more so it’s this: user uploaded content by millions of people who can also live stream, which is how I first encountered porn on the app. A very helpful naked man live-streamed his live stream (if you know what I mean).

Kids are going to see it eventually, right? Might as well let them see it now. Might as well get them drunk while we’re at it. And high. Can’t keep them bubble-wrapped forever. Eight-year-olds have been diaper-free for five years; if you can pee in a potty, you can hold your own online. Amiright?

Friends who worry I’m over-reacting suggest I make the account private to keep pedophiles at bay, but pedophiles are not my main concern. Here’s why: Pretend you can turn your kid invisible. Pretend you drop your invisible kid off at a warehouse in downtown LA. You have no idea who’s inside — fingers crossed it’s packed with Nobel Peace Prize winners, board-certified pediatricians, and J.K. Rowling. Pray it is not packed with the worst of humanity. No one can see your kid, but your kid can see everyone and hear everything.

Would you do it?

Of course you wouldn’t. Most parents are careful about who and what their child is exposed to. Setting your child’s account to private may make him invisible, but he’s still there, fully present, taking it all in.

“Excuse me, where can I find a vampire copulating with a cartoon bear?”

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