In an opinion piece in AD, social media expert Michiel Kalverda warned of the dangers of popular social media platforms such as TikTok and Telegram, which he believes violate the rules for the protection of minors.

Kalverda advocates a ban on such apps in the Netherlands to protect young people against the negative effects of tech giants without a conscience. He gives three reasons why parents should not leave their children under 18 unattended on TikTok and Telegram:

The apps violate the rules of governments and agencies

According to Kalverda, TikTok has been collecting sensitive information from its users for years without any consequences, until the app was called to account in 2023. Meanwhile, the Russian chat app Telegram allows for the exchange of weapons, drugs, terrorist ideas and child pornography, breaking almost all rules regarding the protection of minors.

Dissemination of images with a negative influence on young people

As a second point, Kalverda mentions the negative impact that both TikTok and Telegram have on young people. In this way, both apps contribute to the spread of images that can have a negative impact on them. Telegram is not only a privacy-friendly alternative to WhatsApp, but it is also known as a platform where users have relatively easy access to drugs, weapons, child pornography and extremist ideas, which according to Kalverda is worrying.

Apps reject changes despite criticism

The last reason why TikTok and Telegram are a danger is the attitude of the applications. In February, the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) introduced a new tool, ‘Take It Down’, which aims to combat the online distribution of nude photos of minors. Both TikTok and Telegram have indicated that they do not want to participate in this tool.

According to Kalverda, a ban or restriction of TikTok and Telegram would send a strong signal to other social media platforms to adhere to agreements. In this way, ethical behavior is rewarded and users know which platforms are safe. According to Michiel, the Netherlands can take a leading role in this by setting strict requirements for content and data use.

“It would do our country good if we took the lead.” – Michiel Kalverda is CEO of TMI, an organization that helps secondary schools with digital literacy and media literacy.

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