Which Went More Viral Challenge: Local News Stories Or TikTok School Violence 'Challenge'?

from the its-local-news-ftw dept

Last month we wrote about adults completely freaking out about supposed viral “TikTok challenges” to do violence in schools. We highlighted a truly excellent Reply All podcast episode and a thorough debunking at Curbed, both of which showed that while there may be some kids doing some stupid stuff on TikTok (because kids and because TikTok) there’s no evidence that any of the really bad stuff actually happened, and what little stuff did happen didn’t appear to actually go viral. What did go viral were adults — school cops (“School Resource Officers”) and administrators — spreading weakly sourced claims about such challenges.

And it appears we’re going through that all over again. A bunch of schools around the country are closed today or on “heightened alert” due to ambiguous claims of a “TikTok challenge” to shoot up schools. And, obviously, coming so soon after another very tragic school shooting (which was not inspired by any TikTok challenge) you can completely understand why administrators, teachers, and parents alike are at least concerned. But… let’s put things in a bit of perspective here. Because with a huge percentage of schools around the country sending home “warning” notes, and the local news blasting stories about this, I’m curious which went more viral? The TikTok “challenge” video that not a single one of these articles has identified or shown or even described? Or all of the many news stories about it?

At least some of the schools (but not all) and some of the news articles (but not all) note that there is no evidence of a credible threat in their school districts, but it seems pretty obvious that the “viral” part of this story was not on TikTok at all, but rather in the media itself. Of course, this follows the same trend we’ve pointed out in the past: the viral stories spread via the regular old media. Yet, everyone freaks out and demands regulations of social media?

This is not to say there wasn’t some dumb kid on TikTok who made such a post. There may have been. But the fact that no one seems to be able to say who it was, where it was, what it said, or how far it spread sure raises questions about how much of it actually happened. And, yes, perhaps there will be school violence today, because (tragically, and for unfortunate reasons) that happens way too often. But it’s important to keep all of this in perspective. How many people do we think learned about this so-called “challenge” from TikTok, and how many learned about it from the local media or the local school district?

And, no, I don’t envy school administrators trying to figure out how to deal with this, because they know that if they don’t send such a note home and something does happen, then they’ll get raked over the coals for their supposed “failures.” So the incentives suggest sending one of those notes home and then taking other actions.

But where does that leave us? We’ve just shown kids how incredibly it easy is to manipulate adults across the country into panicking and freaking out and in many cases shutting down school for a day — because of some vague, undefined claims of a supposedly “viral” TikTok video that no one can actually identify. If anything is going to cause disruptions and problems in schools, it’s that.

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Companies: tiktok

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Comments on “Which Went More Viral Challenge: Local News Stories Or TikTok School Violence 'Challenge'?”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Detention will not prevent kids doing stupid Tik Tok things. And if the Tik Tok thing is something that requires official law enforcement attention, even that won’t deter kids.

set(heard about the challenge) > set(heard about the penalty) > set(think they will get caught)

I wonder how viral a Tik Tok of "getting caught doing stupid shit" would be.

That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Now I don’t use the tik of the toks so I am unsure of 1 little thing…

Media report claiming the threats were made anonymously.

I thought all the tikentokens had the username on the videos & while there are ways to be anonymous online most teenagers, despite being smarter than boomers, wouldn’t bother (or know how) doing them. While an IP isn’t a person locking it into a specific phone really makes it hard to be anonymous (given the huge data scooping happeneing every second of every day).

Dave says:

Because: Mainstream Media Wants Social Media Dead or Dumb

Excellent that you caught this, I noticed too.

This happens because the more social media is discredited, the more value old school media retains. And that’s important because that value is deflating at an unbelievable rate.

The collective strategy in my view is to highlight the dangers of low barrier publishing, as is the case with social media, and to accent its unreliability. That it also provides cheap content is just a side benefit.

ECA (profile) says:

All the world a stage, hope you get it,

ASK something you should know, but leave it up to the Answer from the people.
Decline to Answer, but have an anon, compete with alittle logic. "God said so". or refer to a site that Backs up the THING.
Keep it up over and over… Anyone that read beyond that point CANT fight back, its like 20 people debating 1 person.

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