TikTok tries to remove widely shared suicide clip

BBC Technology 08 Sep 2020 11:32

By Jane Wakefield
Technology reporter

TikTok logo on screen.
image copyrightGetty Images

Video-sharing site TikTok is struggling to take down clips showing a man killing himself.

The footage, which has been circulating on the platform for several days, originated on Facebook and has also been shared on Twitter and Instagram.

TikTok is hugely popular with young people - and many have reported coming across the video and being traumatised by the content.

The app said it would ban accounts repeatedly uploading clips.

'Warned others'

"Our systems have been automatically detecting and flagging these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies, or promotes suicide," a representative said.

"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."

Facebook told BBC News: "We removed the original video from Facebook last month, on the day it was streamed, and have used automation technology to remove copies and uploads since that time.

TikTok phone
image copyrightGetty Images

"She was in such a state, shaking like a leaf and properly sobbing," Brenda, who lives near Edinburgh, told the BBC.

Brenda explained that her daughter had seen the suicide video after it appeared within the recommended clips of TikTok's For You section.

"I have heard about trolling and nasty things but this tops it all. I phoned the police but they reminded me that it is not their job to police the internet.

Since the incident, she added, her daughter had slept with the light on and kept reliving the images she had seen. She added that her daughter felt scared to leave the house and was missing a day of school as a result.

Sensationalising self-harm

TikTok's algorithms often recommend content from people not directly followed by a user.

Facebook, which owns Instagram, has also faced criticism that the platform shares content sensationalising self-harm and suicide.

The BBC has information on what to do if children see something upsetting online here

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