TikTok says it has not found any videos threatening school violence on December 17th | Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
TikTok said Friday that it’s working to remove “alarmist warnings” about a supposed day of school violence that was rumored to take place on Friday, December 17th. A supposed threat of a nationwide day of violence at schools across the country, that allegedly started as a TikTok challenge, prompted some districts to cancel classes Friday even as law enforcement mostly determined that the threats were not credible.
TikTok said on Twitter that the warnings violated its misinformation policy, which prohibits the spread of hoaxes or warnings about hoaxes that treat them as real. After searching “exhaustively,” Tiktok said it had not found content on its platform promoting violence at US schools on Friday, despite the widespread but unsubstantiated rumors.
“What we find are videos discussing this rumor and warning others to stay safe,” TikTok’s communications team posted in a thread on Twitter. “Local authorities, the FBI, and DHS have confirmed there’s no credible threat, so we’re working to remove alarmist warnings that violate our misinformation policy.” The company said it would remove and report any threats it did find, adding that it was “deeply concerned that the proliferation of local media reports on an alleged trend that has not been found on the platform could end up inspiring real world harm.”
4/ We understand it can be difficult to know how to assess viral warnings online. We have a guide on our Safety Center to help people assess this kind of content https://t.co/nZuxGBolrd
— TikTokComms (@TikTokComms) December 17, 2021
Schools across the US were on alert Friday after reports of threats allegedly made on TikTok began circulating on social media and local television news stations. Districts in a handful of states said they would close Friday; other districts planned increased police presence and notified parents. While districts and local police departments mostly reported hearing about a trend referencing the possibility of shootings or bombings on December 17th, it wasn’t not clear how many saw any specific threats or threats against their schools.