Welsh Gov minister ‘appalled and deeply troubled’ by ‘abuse’ of teachers on TikTok
A Welsh Government minster has said he is “appalled and deeply troubled” by the “abuse” of teachers and school staff on TikTok.
Jeremy Miles MS, Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, was responding to reports of craze on the social media app has seen children share videos of staff with inappropriate hashtags and comments and superimposing their faces onto pornography.
He said that he’s instructed his officials to contact TikTok “directly” to “express” his “concerns” and that executives at the tech giant have “confirmed that they are committed to resolving this matter urgently”.
In a written statement, he said: “I am appalled and deeply troubled by the recent trend of targeting teachers and school staff on social media. It is completely unacceptable that teachers are being subjected to explicit, offensive and harmful content online and any such abuse should not be tolerated.
“Protecting the well-being of staff is of paramount importance and this is even more crucial given the challenging times we are living in. Where such deplorable abuse is directed towards teachers and schools on social media I recognise that not only does this have a distressing impact on individuals, it can also have significant adverse implications for the education community.
“That is why, as a matter of priority, I instructed my officials to contact TikTok directly to express my concerns around the considerable distress this is causing teachers and request that any instances of inappropriate or offensive content be removed immediately.
“Executives at TikTok have confirmed that they are committed to resolving this matter urgently. I understand that a dedicated trust and safety team has been established and are working at pace to remove and/or ban accounts that have been identified as impersonating schools or posting bullying and harassing content directed towards teachers.
“TikTok has also confirmed that content moderators are working proactively to identify and remove any new instances of abusive content posted on the platform. My officials will continue to work with TikTok, and keep me updated on this matter.”
Welsh Conservative Shadow Minister for Education, Laura Anne Jones MS said: “It’s highly concerning to see such abhorrent slurs stemming from TikTok.
“Teachers have felt the strain of the past 18 months as much as anyone and the last thing Welsh education needs as we recover is even fewer teachers, which would compound Labour’s recruitment failure over the past few years.
“The Labour Government in Cardiff Bay must work with the appropriate social media companies to take action against harmful content on their sites and to ensure that there’s a clear process for reporting content to protect individuals and restore confidence”.
A spokesperson for TikTok said: “We are crystal clear that hateful behaviour, bullying and harassment have no place on TikTok.
“We regret the distress caused to some teachers as a result of abusive content posted to our platform.”
The spokesperson added that the company has deployed additional technical measures and guidance and continued to “proactively detect and remove violative content and accounts”.