Recently, people have had a lot to say about where Kim Kardashian has brought North West. Not every event or activity is child-appropriate.
Sure, between the two parents, more people are Team Kim than Team Kanye. Hitler apologists are not, as a rule, great parents.
But Kim’s most recent stunt has fans expressing nothing but disgust.
Some accuse her of endangering North and Chicago online. And others are asking why she’s allowing anonymous fans to send the girls gifts.
North West is 9 years old. Chicago West is only 5. The threshold age for many parts of the internet is 13 — whether you’re ordering a pizza or signing up for social media. If you’re not there yet, you need a parent.
On Wednesday, their parent, Kim, went on TikTok Live with both of them. They filmed a dance routine and shared it.
TikTok Live is not merely a real-time livestream. It also allows thoroughly unmoderated comments to float up onto the broadcaster’s stream. Oh, and it allows viewers to send the streamer gifts.
It’s super weird for a billionaire to receive gifts from random fans at all — even if it’s optional. (Some of these “stickers” are worth actual money; they are essentially financial tokens)
And it’s also weird to subject children to a massive audience on social media without regulation.
Many streams have moderation. TikTok Live has, at best, TikTok’s automated filters. Anyone who has moderated any kind of live stream — even for very small audiences — can tell you that these are never enough. Not for adults, and certainly not for little kids.
Naturally, a ton of commenters on TikTok itself expressed their horror and concern.
“Lost for words,” one wrote. “Why do people gift them and does KK even know these gifts are worth $?”
Another commented: “This is sick. Don’t even want to know the comments those poor kids are reading.”
“Why is she going live?” asked another commenter.
“That’s so weird considering the s–t people ALWAYS comment on Tiktok lives,” that same person remarked.
“TikTok is like the worst platform for kids,” the commenter sagely described. “And she just puts her kids straight into the firing line.”
“Absolutely feral behaviour,” one likely British commenter spat. “Can’t believe people have the nerve to say she’s a good mother.”
Another commented: “Growing up through the initial social media wave, I’d never expose my minor children to the internet.”
That’s probably a bit hyperbolic (keeping a 15-year-old off of the internet would be a disservice and make school work impossible).
But it’s true that the internet is a much more dangerous place for children than it was twenty years ago.
In 2003, radicalization in a hate group would likely take place in a hard-to-find forum. Predators hunting for minors would have to use chat rooms and email.
In 2023, algorithms will spoonfeed people radicalization material on TikTok or on YouTube. They don’t have to seek it. Meanwhile, predators can masquerade as “safe” people in fandom spaces, condemning “problematic art” to gain social clout and access to their targets.
As for the gifts, a lot of livestream platforms — from TikTok to Twitch — have these mechanisms.
People vie for “top gifter” status, hoping for attention from whichever famous person is on their screen. But a number of commenters suggested that Kim should turn them off.
Meanwhile, though we don’t love the idea of any child (or most adults) on TikTok … presumably, Kim would have ended the livestream if the comments got out of hand. Right? We hope so.