TikTok is working to prevent the spread of a graphic video that shows a man dying by suicide, but its efforts are being hampered by users who are continuing to re-upload the clip.
Reports suggest that the video begins with a man with a gray beard sitting at a desk. When it was added to the platform at the weekend, TikTok algorithms, unaware of its disturbing content, included it on the apps For You discovery feed.
While many TikTok users have been posting messages warning others not to play the video if they see it in the For You feed, others have been trying to trick people into watching it by placing the clip within an innocent-looking video.
TikTok has confirmed the incident and says it is working to remove the suicide video from its platform. Part of the effort includes banning accounts that re-upload the clip, it said.
“Our systems have been automatically detecting and flagging these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies, or promotes suicide,” a TikTok 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.”
It’s believed that the clip first appeared on Facebook before turning up on TikTok, as well as Instagram and Twitter. The person who took his own life is reported to be a 33-year-old Mississippi man but this is yet to be confirmed.
The incident highlights just one of the challenges that social media platforms have in removing distressing content from their sites. With masses of content constantly being uploaded, algorithms and human operators can only respond once the material is on the site, by which time many people will already have inadvertently watched the video, with others sharing it. The task of removing the content from the site is made all the harder when some users continue to re-upload the disturbing content.
Digital Trends has reached out to TikTok for an update on its efforts to remove the clip and we will update this piece when we hear back.
U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Suicide prevention information for those outside the U.S.: Click here