Begging is reportedly going digital in Indonesia, with street beggars posting TikTok videos asking for virtual gifts rather than going out on the street.
Photo via South China Morning Post
TikTok begging has reportedly become so widespread in Indonesia that the government has been forced to intervene to control it. The country’s social minister has reportedly asked her staff to increase efforts to prevent begging, both online and offline.
According to Oddity Central, the popular video-sharing platform by Byte Dance allows creators with at least 1,000 followers to receive virtual gifts from their followers, which can then be converted into real money. This is a feature available on a variety of other social media platforms, but TikTok's popularity apparently made it ideal for beggars.
TikTok beggars need only record a video of themselves performing some pity-inducing acts, post it on the popular social network, and watch the money start rolling in instead of spending several hours out on the street asking for handouts from generous passers-by.
Beggars, particularly elderly women, have used mud water to appeal to viewers' generosity in one popular trend. Some of these mud baths can last for hours and are apparently quite profitable given their popularity.
Unfortunately for these modern beggars, the government has been cracking down on this type of content, requesting that mud bath videos be removed from the platform.
Despite the Indonesian government's efforts to curb the popularity of TikTok begging, experts believe the trend will continue as long as people believe they are doing good by giving directly to beggars.
Surprisingly, Indonesia has the world's second-largest TikTok user base, with 99.1 million users, trailing only the United States.