TikTok is racing to take down copies of a disturbing video showing a man's apparent suicide, which has gone viral on the video-sharing platform in recent days. Users across social media platforms are warning others to avoid the graphic video if possible.
The man originally live-streamed the disturbing scene on Facebook in late August, but since then clips have been copied and spread across a variety of social media platforms, including, most recently, TikTok.
"On Sunday night, clips of a suicide that had originally been livestreamed on Facebook circulated on other platforms, including TikTok. Our systems, together with our moderation teams, have been detecting and removing these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies, or promotes suicide," a TikTok spokesperson told CBS News on Tuesday.
"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 spokesperson said.
A Facebook spokesperson told CBS News on Tuesday that they removed the original video on the day it was posted, "and have usedto remove copies and uploads since that time."
TikTok's unique algorithm and content recommendation system allow content to spread more easily than other apps. Contrary to other platforms like Facebook and Instagram, which mainly focus on people you follow, TikTok's main feed, the "For You Page," gives users viral content regardless of whether or not they follow the account positing it — making it very difficult to avoid unwanted footage.
And given TikTok's youthful user base, graphic content has the potential to easily reach a massive number of kids and teens. While TikTok works to remove all instances of the video, users have been cautioning others to swipe away the second they see a grainy visual of the man, who has a long beard and is sitting at a desk.
Some users are also warning people that the video may appear buried within another, seemingly harmless video. Many say the safest option may be to stay off the app entirely until TikTok has dealt with the issue.
TikTok already has measures in place to limit content related to self-harm. When searching "suicide," "suicide video" and other related terms, there are no results — users are instead shown the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline as well as a "tips and support" section.
If you or someone you know is in emotional distress or suicidal crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
For more information about mental health care resources and support, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) HelpLine can be reached Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.–6 p.m. ET, at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or email email@example.com.