TikTok Users Are Being Tricked Into Watching A Suicide Video & The App Is Scrambling To Shut It Down

Maybe avoid TikTok for now.

Heads up, TikTok addicts. A violent video showing a man dying by suicide has been trending on the platform and you’re going to want to avoid it like the plague (avoid the plague too, please). 

So you know what to avoid: The video allegedly opens with a bearded man in glasses sitting at a desk. In the thumbnail for the vid, the man is on the phone.

The graphic clip reportedly starting doing the rounds on Sunday night. A TikTok spokesperson told The Verge the video originated on Facebook and has since made its way to other apps. 

“Our systems have been automatically detecting and flagging these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies, or promotes suicide,” the spokesperson told The Verge. 

While TikTok has removed several versions of the video, users are continuing to re-circulate the video; even hiding it inside more innocuous-looking ones. The result is often sneak-attack trauma for the unsuspecting scroller, many of whom are kids. 

Some even report that the video appeared on TikTok’s 'For You' homepage, making it even easier for users to mistakenly stumble upon the footage.

“We are banning accounts that repeatedly try to upload clips, and we appreciate our community members who’ve reported content and warned others against watching, engaging, or sharing such videos on any platform out of respect for the person and their family,” the TikTok representative added. 

Taylor Lorenz, a reporter at the New York Times tweeted that while similar videos have made the rounds on Instagram for years, TikTok’s mode of distributing videos lends itself to this problem. 

While Instagram users see videos based on an 'interest graph' (or 'follow graph'), TikTok’s distribution system (combined with auto-play) can allow videos like this to spread like wildfire.

The fact that TikTok can’t seem to get a handle on the spread of the gruesome and incredibly sad video footage raises questions about the ethics and responsibility of the popular social media platform

The incident comes a couple of days before World Suicide Prevention Day this Thursday 10th September, 2020. 

If you’re struggling with your mental health, there are plenty of ways to seek help. Jump on over to Headspace (ages 12-25) or call Lifeline (all ages) on 13 11 14 to speak to someone. Kids Helpline has some great resources on their website, too, and a 24/7 call line at 1800 55 1800.

Image Credit: Timi David, Unsplash