Popular kids’ app TikTok faces official probe over fears it’s a ‘magnet for paedophiles’

HIT social media app TikTok will be investigated over fears it’s a “magnet for paedophiles”.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has launched a probe over concerns predatory adults can freely message children on it.

She warned that kids “aren’t alright” online and tech companies must do far more to protect them.

Her stark warning to MPs came after campaigners raised the alarm over the app, which lets users post clips of people dancing to music.

The Sun Online recently revealed kids as young as eight have been targeted by predators on the app, which has a staggering 500million users worldwide.

Videos of young schoolchildren innocently singing or dancing attract swarms of sexually suggestive comments.

And parents have been horrified to see their children receive aggressive direct messages from older men.

Grilled by MPs on the culture committee, Ms Denham said: “We are investigating a company named TikTok

We are looking at the transparency tools for children, the messaging system, the kind of videos collected and shared by children online.”

Once logged in with an account, users can post videos of themselves which are broadcast to other people. Anyone can then message the person directly.

John Carr, one of the UK’s leading experts on child online safety, warned of the controversial app: “There’s no question an app like this is a magnet for paedophiles.”

TikTok bosses have already been fined £4.3million for collecting data on US kids including their names, locations and email addresses.

Ms Denham also said that while one in five Brits online are kids, tech giants and online gaming companies have failed to do enough to protect them.

The data tsar said: “We know that the internet, games, websites and social media companies were not designed with kids in mind, and yet 20 per cent of the users of the users of the internet in the UK are children.

“And the kids are not alright. We need to focus on the kids.”

She was quizzed by the culture committee as part of their inquiry into kids getting hooked on gaming.

A TikTok spokesman said: “We cooperate with organisations such as the ICO to provide relevant information about our product to support their work.

“Ensuring data protection principles are upheld is a top priority for TikTok.”

The ICO has the power to fine companies four per cent of the company’s global turnover if they are found guilty of the worst breaches.

Andy Burrows of the NSPCC said: “The Information Commissioner’s investigation into TikTok, and whether its site design puts children at risk of grooming and abuse, is significant.

“Social networks have made little progress in protecting children on their platforms so it is imperative that the new Prime Minister makes this a priority and the Government now works swiftly to build on its bold and ambitious proposals and brings in legislation that will make the UK the safest place for children to be online.

“Recent research also showed us that nine out of ten children and parents also agree tech firms should have legal responsibility to keep young users safe