The video-sharing network is facing backlash over weight-related content – including clips apparently recommending a diet of 1200 calories a day.
Users say they are shared and recommended on the ‘For You’ page – including clips of restrictive diets and weight loss.
Teenage girls are now deleting the app as a way to avoid the appearance-pressure, according to a report but student news site The Tab.
It spoke to Chelsea, 16, who thinks there’s only two types of successful TikTokers – those with a tiny waist and a nice face, or those with a good sense of humour.
She said: “It’s a very pro-ana and pro-skinny atmosphere from the very first time you create an account.
“Tumblr had a very similar toxic era where ‘thinspo’ and ‘pro-ana’ posts were everywhere and it has died down a lot since – mainly because of awareness.
“But if TikTok doesn’t already then I would suggest having a warning and a helpline number on any particularly triggering search terms like Tumblr has now.”
Marketing Apprentice Lily Bottomley, 21, downloaded the app after seeing tweets about toxic material on the app.
Her first recommendations on the ‘For You’ page were videos of ‘what I eat in a day’ and home workouts, despite having only liked fashion-related posts.
She said: “A friend reached out to me earlier, saying she was considering deleting the app because she saw a video of a girl comparing her waist to a Macbook.
“This lockdown period can be triggering enough as it is, and I’m sure it’s overwhelming to open an app for entertainment purposes, only to be swarmed with videos of food and at home workouts.
“I think some videos that show ‘what I eat in a day’ and the likes can be inspiring to pursue a healthier lifestyle and I enjoy the pens that promote everything in moderation.
“But I have seen a lot of content that promotes calorie counting and, although it may work for some, I think users who promote things like that need to be aware TikTok’s primary audience is generally quite young.”
Nursery support worker Holly Mackinnon, 18, deleted the app after she began to relapse into her eating disorder.
She joined the app three years ago when it was known as Musical.ly – she deleted the app in May 2020.
She said: “Personally, I definitely felt the need to take some time away from the platform.
“Videos like that kind can be so destructive and create very intrusive thoughts, especially for people who struggle with eating or body issues already.
“For sure now I don’t pick it up as much because of how deeply it makes me compare myself to others and makes me feel like I need to look like those people when they use a photo of a body similar to mine as a ‘before’ overweight image.
“I feel if possible, TikTok should try to add some restrictions to this type of content.
“Just as it tries to limit self-harming content as it triggers – I think this is just as serious a trigger.”
Journalism student Rachel Gibson, 18, also took a break after being over exposed to weight-loss videos.
She downloaded the app in February 2020 and used it almost daily until she took a break in March.
The first-year at Glasgow Caledonian University said: “As a teenage/youg adult female, I feel pressure can be put on us regardless to be thinner and skinner and once I realised that an app had fed into these insecurities, I knew straight away I needed to take a break from it.
“I just logged out – I stayed off it for about a week in hopes the content on my For You poage would clear and change from that sort of content.
“Especially in a time like lockdown, the last thing we need is anymore unnecessary negativity in our lives.”
For Sydney, she found herself spending more time comparing herself to those in the videos than enjoying the content.
She said: “I didn’t see the point and I hated what it was doing to my expectations of others, myself and how I should look and live my life.
“Videos are less than a minute long, so you were being exposed to so much in such a short amount of time.
“Since deleting TikTok, I have felt much more confident and confident and comfortable with myself being me.”
TikTok have said they make efforts to delete videos that violate community guidelines.
A TikTok spokesperson said content is monitored to ensure it does not violate community guidelines, and would be removed if it did.
They said: “Keeping our community safe is a top priority for TikTok and we care deeply about the wellbeing of our users.
“For some, TikTok provides an opportunity to share their experience of living with or recovering from an eating disorder and expression of this nature is permitted within the boundaries of our community guidelines.
“Any content or account that seeks to promote or glorify eating disorders is a violation of our community guidelines and will be removed.”