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Videos promoting use have millions of views, report says

NEW YORK (AP) — TikTok has become an important marketing conduit for vendors to market steroids and other fitness drugs to millions of app users, a social media company said Thursday in a report. The report disputes this.

exist ResearchThe nonprofit Center to Counter Digital Hate said some influencers have posted popular videos encouraging the use of these products for aesthetic or athletic gains, often downplaying the risks associated with them. The move comes after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning in April about the sale of performance-enhancing drugs to teens and young adults on social media platforms.

Imran Ahmed, founder and CEO of CCDH, said: “Influencers are marketing these drugs to young people, saying, ‘If you want to be like Captain America, you have to take these drugs. ‘.”

The findings show that in the past three years, TikTok videos promoting what researchers call “steroid-like drugs” under certain hashtags have been viewed more than 587 million times in the United States, with 72% of those views coming from older users 18 to 18 years old. 24th. The report also said that dozens of influencers promoted websites that sold the drugs directly or through affiliate marketing programs that allowed them to benefit from the sales.

TikTok spokesman Ben Rathe criticized the report, saying the group’s approach did not distinguish between harmful videos and positive content talking about recovery from steroids or their side effects. He said it’s impossible for the CCDH to know this based on the type of data they provide and the number of videos on TikTok.

The researchers said they evaluated the top 20 videos for some hashtags, as well as all videos containing fewer than 20 videos for other hashtags.

Information for this report comes from TikTok’s publicly available Creative Center tool. The researchers were unable to measure the number of times users under 18 encountered such content because the company did not provide that information. Ahmed said in an interview that his team has asked TikTok to provide such data for evaluation.

Similar to Instagram, TikTok has a large fitness community of users discussing a variety of topics, including exercise and steroid use. Popular videos posted on the app speculate about who is “fit or not” or who is born fit or takes steroids.

The study examined content related to three classes of drugs: anabolic androgenic steroids, or synthetic hormones that mimic the effects of testosterone; peptides that mimic the release of human growth hormone and aid athletic performance; and selective androgen receptor modulators , called “SARM”. These substances may pose health risks and are prohibited for use in sport under the World Anti-Doping Code.

Anabolic steroids are also illegal to use without a prescription under U.S. law. According to the United States Anti-Doping Agency, peptide hormones and SARMs are not approved for over-the-counter use by the Food and Drug Administration and should not be purchased in dietary supplements.

The nonprofit’s researchers urged lawmakers to investigate loopholes that allow websites selling these substances to operate online. They also called on TikTok to better enforce its ban on content promoting the use of recreational drugs.

TikTok spokesperson Rathe said the company will remove content that sells or describes SARMS if it is found.

TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance Co Ltd.

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