TikTok allowed content promoting prescription drugs as weight loss aids to reach teenagers, according to a report by The Pharmaceutical Journal.
The journal set up a new TikTok account, indicating to the platform that the user was a 16-year-old girl and began searching for content under #dietpills, looking closely at the top 100 posts. Of the 100 videos, researchers found that nearly a third promoted diet pills for weight loss. Under the “diet pills” term, organic posts named prescription drugs for epilepsy, migraines, and addiction. Some of the posts flagged by the journal to TikTok were eventually removed, The Guardian reports.
In 2020, the company updated its policies by banning ads for fasting apps and weight loss supplements and limiting ads for “weight management products” to users 18 and up. Yet the test account by The Pharmaceutical Journal was able to find posts selling diet pills. Some users also made daily video diaries as they took the medication or shared before and after photos to show apparent weight loss.