TikTok has been exposed to be profiteering from the sale of illegal and potentially dangerous beauty cosmetics, despite its claims of a “zero tolerance” approach to rogue sellers, reported The Guardian.
The products include counterfeit cosmetics and even prescription-only skin creams from renowned brands like Dior, Vaseline, and Mabeylline.
Skin-whitening lotions containing banned ingredients and dangerous acne creams that should be used with a prescription only, were also advertised. The products are being touted by third-party vendors on TikTok’s own marketplace platform.
TikTok Shop is an in-app shopping feature that lets viewers buy products that creators are promoting and using in their TikTok videos. The ‘Shop’ tab lets users browse products from a variety of categories, including toilet rolls, sports drinks and clothing.
The video-sharing platform takes a 5% commission on sales and emphasises its strict rules on what can be sold on the platform, which include the prohibition of “the advertising and sale” of all counterfeit products.
It has also seemingly banned the sale of prescription-only medicines, such as acne skin creams, and skin-whitening creams that contain banned ingredients.
Research showed that nine out of the first 13 results displayed to users searching for perfumes, were counterfeit. Some products like makeup cosmetics remained on the marketplace despite being labelled “dupes”.
Many TikTok Shop customers have warned others about the counterfeit products being sold as original on the app, after experiencing it themselves.
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Much of the products being sold are made in China and then shipped to different areas, while the details about their origin and manufacturing processes are unknown.
UK Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit seized some samples of the counterfeit products and ran tests, which revealed “toxic levels” of arsenic, mercury and lead.
Additionally, acne gels containing Tretinoin were also available on TikTok Shop, which can lead to interactions with other medications and cause foetal abnormalities if taken while pregnant.
After being alerted by the Observer, TikTok blocked searches for “tretinoin” and removed listings from third-party vendors that referred to the ingredient.
The social media company claims that it takes intellectual property infringement and the illicit sale of medical products seriously, and those violating the policy will be banned from the site. It said that hundreds of products and merchants from TikTok Shop including 50 listings flagged by the Observer, have been removed.