TikTok criticised for allowing suicide video


Tik Tok logos are seen on smartphones in front of a displayed ByteDance logo in this illustration taken November 27, 2019. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Social media site TikTok has come under heavy criticism for allowing a video showing suicide to be uploaded and shared among its users. 

A South African digital law expert Emma Sadleir has warned parents to keep their children off TikTok until it removes a graphic live video of a US man taking his life.

The footage of the suicide was uploaded to the Chinese video-sharing social network on Sunday night from Facebook, where it was initially streamed. The video was removed but was uploaded again by TikTok users on Monday, leaving scores of children who access the platform disturbed.

Sadleir posted a warning to parents on Facebook: “There is a graphic video of a man taking his own life circulating on TikTok. Parents are being urged to keep their children off the popular social media platform for the next few days,” she said.

According to a report by social media analytics tool HyperAuditor — core users of TikTok in SA are aged 13-17.

“I have heard shocking reports. Parents are saying their children will suffer post traumatic disorder from watching this video. It’s been widely circulated.”

Sadleir said the best line of defence is “active, aware and involved parents”.

“Most parents don’t even know their children are on TikTok. They have to keep their children off the platform until they can get a handle on it. They can’t yet.”

​TikTok said in a social media post that it was aware of the video.

“We’re aware that clips of a suicide that was livestreamed on Facebook have recently circulated on other platforms including TikTok.

“Our systems have been automatically detecting and flagging these clips for violating our community guidelines,” said TikTok.

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