scorecardWe found dozens of TikTok accounts skirting the app's filters to peddle drugs by using nose and snowflake emoji and banned hashtags
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We found dozens of TikTok accounts skirting the app's filters to peddle drugs by using nose and snowflake emoji and banned hashtags

Rosie Bradbury   

We found dozens of TikTok accounts skirting the app's filters to peddle drugs by using nose and snowflake emoji and banned hashtags
Tech1 min read
  • TikTok users are using drug-related slang and emoji to circumvent the app's filters and push illegal substances, an Insider investigation found.
  • We found purported dealers overlaying posts with snow and nose emoji to reference cocaine without triggering blocks.

TikTok accounts advertising illegal drugs can easily circumvent the app's word blocks to reach new audiences from the Discover page, an Insider investigation has found.

We found accounts using emoji such as snowflake, snowmen, and noses in their posts to advertise cocaine. Snow is a common slang term for cocaine.

Insider also found accounts pushing magic mushrooms that used slang and tied together banned hashtags with permitted hashtags to get around TikTok's filters on more obvious drug-related terms. Cocaine and psychedelic mushrooms are illegal in both the UK and the US.

TikTok eventually blocked several accounts and terms after they were highlighted by Insider.

You can read Insider's full investigation here.

A TikTok spokesperson said: "The safety and wellbeing of our community is a top priority. We take action against accounts that violate our Community Guidelines, which make clear that we do not allow the depiction, promotion, or trade of drugs or other controlled substances. There's no finish line when it comes to our community's safety, which is why we continue to invest at scale in our Trust and Safety operations."

TikTok's drug problem isn't unique. Every social media site with an extensive user base has a cohort of drug sellers or scammers, experts say, and tech companies are reluctant to face the problem head-on.

But TikTok has more daily active users — over 1 billion — than any other single social network and is popular with preteen users. Its explosive growth has led the firm to poach content moderators from rivals to cope with its rapid growth.

Read Insider's full story here: TikTok drug sellers are using nose and snowflake emoji and slang to get around search blocks and peddle cocaine and mushrooms

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