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TikTok is racing to stop the spread of a gruesome video

TikTok is racing to stop the spread of a gruesome video


Clips started circulating on Sunday night

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Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

TikTok is trying to remove graphic videos circulating the app that show a man shooting himself with a gun, and banning accounts from people who are re-uploading the clip.

TikTok says the clip was originally streamed on Facebook and has appeared on other apps. As the TikTok community became aware of the clip, many creators started posting videos warning their followers to look out for an image — a man sitting in front of his desk with a grey beard — and swipe away from the video. Other creators spoke about the most disturbing part of the video being hidden inside more innocuous looking TikToks. A TikTok representative confirmed to The Verge that “clips of a suicide” started circulating on Sunday night.

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 said. “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.”

These types of videos have appeared on other sites in the past, including Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit. Since TikTok videos are surfaced into one main feed — known as the For You Page — that people scroll through, it can be harder to avoid the footage. That could explain why the TikTok community is trying to be extra vigilant about warning others about the imagery in the video. Warnings have also started popping up on Instagram where clips of the video are circulating. On sites like Twitter, parents have spoken about their children and teenagers coming across the video, and the toll it’s taken.

“If anyone in our community is struggling with thoughts of suicide or concerned about someone who is, we encourage them to seek support, and we provide access to hotlines directly from our app and in our Safety Center,” the spokesperson said.