Is TikTok taking advantage of users?

Last updated at 12:03
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WATCH: The TikTok stars getting rich off their fans by 'gift-baiting'

A BBC investigation has uncovered the dark side of TikTok gifting.

Sending animated stickers to to your favourite TikTokers is seen as by many users as a way to get recognition and give your faves some love.

But many of these stickers come with a hefty price tag.

The report found that one sticker - Drama Queen - cost users £48.99 a pop!

Many of these famous TikTokers claim that their fans are old enough to decide how they spend their money, but others claim that TikTok is taking advantage of young users.

drama queenTikTok
The "drama queen" gift

Animated stickers can be bought from TikTok and can be sent during live streams.

In exchange, the TikToker who receives the sticker might offer their fan the promise of a collaboration or a shout out on their channel. A few stars even offer the chance for their users to speak on the phone with them.

The report found that many TikTokers can earn hundreds of pounds during a live stream with their fans through these stickers, and that their promises of returning favours to their fans are not always kept.

What is TikTok?
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WATCH: Holly H gives her advice on how to be the best TikTok user

TikTok is a bit like a mix of YouTube and Twitch. Users upload videos of themselves, often lip-syncing, doing comedy or performing dance routines to different songs.

It has also been seen as a follow up to the video-sharing app Vine, which was stopped in May 2018.

You can follow different users and popular TikTokers live stream to their fans, where they can talk to them and receive direct comments and stickers

Who is TikTok for?
TikTok

TikTok is for people aged 16 and over, but many TikTok stars admit that they know lots of their fans are underage.

In February this year, TikTok was fined $5.7 million (£4.3 million) for hosting content that they knew came from underage users of the app.

"We care deeply about the safety and privacy of our users," TikTok said.

tiktokGetty Images
TikTok is meant to be for people aged 16 and over, but many of the users are underage

"This is an ongoing commitment, and we are continuing to expand and evolve our protective measures in support of this."

On Tuesday, the UK's Information Commissioner revealed she had also launched an inquiry into whether the app was doing enough to safeguard its youngest users.

"We do have an active investigation into TikTok right now, so you can watch that space," said Elizabeth Denham.

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