Because it only makes sense for the final day of the most hellish year in our existence, TikTok is going through a stage of banning a bunch of bots, and in the process, has made it impossible for some to change their profile pictures. TikTok users noticed this change about a day ago, saying they either lost their profile pics, or couldn't alter them.
"Wth goin on w the tiktok profile picture," one person tweeted.
"TikTok is annoying me so much, just wanted to change my profile pic & now I’m stuck with a grey circle," another tweeted. Hundreds of posts like this have accumulated on Twitter. Some folks are concerns they've violated some rule, or are being penalized, which likely isn't the case. Luckily, we have some answers.
What's going on with TikTok profile pictures?
Some TikTok users are unable to change their profile pictures because TikTok is in the process of removing users with lewd and pornographic profile pics. One person took to Twitter to explain. (TW: The following tweet discusses disturbing behavior.) "TW: cp - tiktok is going through a TEMPORARY stage of banning profile pictures due to a young girl having her private part as the image, and other young users following her lead. it’ll restore. the bots are just doing their work," they wrote.
What does CP mean on TikTok?
"CP" means child porn, and the users TikTok is going after are ones who have sexually explicit images, some of minors, as their profile pictures. Several TikTok users have already complained about being exposed to these terrible images, so it looks like TikTok is taking care of the problem. It's unclear when they'll be finished sweeping the app and deleting these users (or if they can trace their origins for potential legal action), but it's good to know that TikTok does take this kind of behavior seriously in order to make the platform as safe of a place as possible for its creators.
As of now, we're being advised to avoid trying to change our profile pics or uninstall and re-install the app. It's unclear if that will result in being unable to use TikTok, or if it simply won't do anything at all.
TikTok has had quite a year. Although it's one of the most popular apps right now, the threat to ban it continues to loom, as the possibility behind the potential data mining of users is of a huge concern to the U.S. government. Just this last Monday, the Department of Justice filed an appeal of the judge's order that blocked the U.S. from banning TikTok. The Trump admin tried to force TikTok (primarily owned by Chinese-based company ByteDance) to sell itself, but that never ended up happening.
Aside from the privacy issues, TikTok has also been a breeding ground for harmful content, like pro-ED videos that have sidestepped the "pro-anorexia" hashtags by simply using common misspellings. Other phenomenons like the "Autism Challenge" which went viral on the platform back in May show that, without constant oversight, damaging trends can potentially influence and harm susceptible users (60 percent of the TikTok's users are between ages 16 and 24).
It seems like the iconic Spider-Man quote also applies to TikTok: With great power, comes great responsibility. But on a positive note, it seems like people behind TikTok agree.