Some TikTok Ads Encourage Teenage Steroid Use
Some TikTok communities, according to a new research by a social media watchdog group, have seen an explosion of steroid content, which promotes potentially harmful and often illegal chemicals while also promoting unrealistic body image standards to young males.
More than 580 million views have been generated by U.S. users in the last three years for videos tagged with hashtags supporting the use of steroid-like medications, with the majority of these views coming from young men between the ages of 18 and 24. There is no information about views from individuals under the age of 18.
“Young women and girls aren’t the only group of young people who are being exposed to potentially damaging and dangerous content online,” CCDH CEO Imran Ahmed said.
“A growing – and chronically understudied – crisis is being fomented among young boys and men, wrapped in toxic ideas of masculinity, strength, and misogyny, and amplified by unaccountable algorithms.”
Because of the potential for confusion, the CCDH refers to these chemicals together as “steroid-like drugs” rather than “performance-enhancing drugs.” The paper covers a wide range of drugs, from anabolic-androgenic steroids and peptides to SARMs.
The Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in April regarding the influence of social media influencers on the use of steroid-like substances among teenagers and young people. The FDA issued a warning after receiving several complaints of adverse events, many of which concerned the use of SARMs and the increased risk of heart attack, infertility, and psychosis.
“Targeting teenagers and young adults, videos on social media platforms tout SARMs as a quick or easy way to improve physical appearance, gain muscle mass, or increase athletic performance,” the FDA wrote. “The reality is SARMs are potentially dangerous.”
In the United States, peptides and SARMs are unlawful when marketed as dietary supplements, while anabolic-androgenic steroids require a prescription.
“There are no [FDA] approved SARMs currently available for prescription,” the United States Anti-Doping Agency claims.
All selective androgen receptor modulators are considered to be “investigational drugs.” Despite warnings about the risks and prohibitions of using them, the drugs are frequently advertised as “research chemicals” that haven’t been reviewed by regulators and aren’t safe for human use.
However, the FDA might not fall for that ruse. Companies selling SARMs that try to exploit this loophole have received warning letters from the government, and in some cases, criminal charges.
According to the survey, drug merchants rarely directly market to minors, but they increasingly employ affiliate marketing through social media influencers on applications like TikTok. The CCDH discovered 35 TikTok stars who had connections to websites selling anabolic steroid-like substances. These identities have a combined 1.8 million TikTok followers, which they utilize to promote affiliate links and coupon codes in exchange for a cut of the profits.
“The accounts all belong to users who post videos displaying their physiques or techniques for gaining muscle,” the report states. “Many openly documented their own experiences with SLDs or uploaded videos in an educational style that highlighted supposed benefits of SLDs, often ignoring or downplaying the health risks.”
TikTok users promoted steroid use among their audiences by posting workout and gym-themed videos. Some of these were aimed squarely at users under the age of eighteen with captions like “teenagers lied about their age to fight in WW2 but you are too scared to take S4RMs [SARMs]” and “Just tell your parents they’re vitamins.” There were also films posted by people who claimed to be under 18 years old and which advocated the use of steroid-like medications for bodybuilding.
The research highlights one bodybuilding influencer who caters to his young audience and his 40,700 followers by using teen-specific hashtags like #teenbodybuilding and #teenfitness. The story strongly suggests that young people start using steroids to increase their height and genital size, which is harmful pseudoscience.
“Ultimately, this is a story of TikTok’s stark failure to govern their own platform and enforce their rules,” Ahmed said. “…TikTok must start enforcing its own rules prohibiting the promotion and sale of potentially dangerous drugs for profit — and it needs to be much more transparent about how many children and teenagers are routinely exposed to this content through the platform’s algorithms.”
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) related to “Teen-Targeted TikTok Steroid Ads Going Viral”;
1. What are Teen-Targeted TikTok Steroid Ads?
- Teen-targeted TikTok steroid ads refer to promotional content on the social media platform TikTok that specifically aims at teenagers and promotes the use of steroids or related substances.
2. Are these ads a common issue on TikTok?
- While TikTok has policies against promoting harmful content, including the sale and use of steroids, instances of such ads targeting teenagers have been reported.
3. How can I recognize Teen-Targeted Steroid Ads on TikTok?
- These ads may use language, visuals, or hashtags that appeal to or target a teenage audience. They may promote quick muscle gain, weight loss, or physical enhancement.
4. Why are these ads concerning for teenagers?
- Teenagers are particularly vulnerable to health risks associated with steroids, as their bodies are still developing. These ads can encourage risky behavior and have negative health consequences.
5. What are the potential health risks of using steroids without medical supervision?
- The use of steroids without medical supervision can lead to a range of health issues, including hormonal imbalances, cardiovascular problems, liver damage, and psychological side effects.
6. How can parents or guardians protect teenagers from such ads on TikTok?
- Parents and guardians can monitor their teenagers’ TikTok activity, educate them about the risks of using steroids, and encourage open communication about online content.
7. What actions can TikTok take to prevent the spread of such ads targeting teenagers?
- TikTok can enhance its content moderation and reporting systems, enforce stricter policies against harmful content, and work with users to report and remove inappropriate ads.
8. What should I do if I come across a Teen-Targeted Steroid Ad on TikTok?
- If you encounter such an ad, you can report it to TikTok by using the platform’s reporting features, which typically include options for reporting inappropriate or harmful content.
9. Are there any legal consequences for those promoting harmful content like Teen-Targeted Steroid Ads on TikTok?
- Promoting illegal substances or harmful behavior may have legal consequences, including legal action against the creators or promoters of such content.
10. Where can teenagers and their parents find reliable information about the dangers of steroids and related substances?
- Reliable sources of information about the dangers of steroids include medical professionals, reputable health organizations, and government websites that provide educational resources on the topic.
These FAQs aim to provide information about the concerning issue of teen-targeted steroid ads on TikTok and the potential risks associated with them.