According to a BBC investigation, displaced families in Syrian camps are pleading for donations on TikTok while the corporation keeps up to 70% of the money. On the social networking platform, kids spend hours live streaming while appealing for digital gifts with a monetary value. The BBC discovered that while streams were making up to $1,000 (£900) per hour, the individuals living in the camps were only receiving a small fraction of it.
The BBC discovered that the “TikTok middlemen,” who gave families the phones and equipment to go live, were facilitating the trend in the camps in north-western Syria. The middlemen claimed they prefer to use British SIM cards since the TikTok algorithm proposes content based on the country’s origin of a user’s phone number. The UK population is reputed to be the most generous.
TikTok declined to disclose how much it took in gifts, so the BBC conducted an experiment to see where the money went.
One of the TikTok-affiliated media outlets received a call from a reporter in Syria who claimed to be residing in the camps. While BBC employees in London sent TikTok presents totaling $106 from another account, he opened an account and went live. The Syrian test account had a balance of $33 at the conclusion of the webcast while 69% of the value had been seized by TikTok.