TikTok profits from livestreams of refugees begging

A BBC investigation found that refugee families in Syrian refugee camps were begging for donations on TikTok, and the company would receive up to 70% of the proceeds.

Children have been live-streaming on social media apps for hours, pleading for cash-worthy digital gifts.

The BBC saw streamers earn as much as $1,000 (£900) an hour, but found refugees received only a fraction of that.

TikTok said it would take swift action against “exploitative begging.”

The company said it doesn’t allow such content on its platform and said its commissions on digital gifts are well below 70%. But it declined to confirm the exact amount.

With TikTok refusing to say how much money it needs from the gift, the BBC conducted an experiment to track where the money went.

A journalist in Syria contacted a TikTok affiliate saying he was living in a refugee camp. He got an account and went online, while BBC staff in London sent $106 worth of TikTok gifts from another account.

At the end of the live stream, the Syrian test account had a balance of $33. TikTok took 69% of the gift’s value.

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