TikTok said that a suicide video that circulated on its platform earlier this month was uploaded as part of a “coordinated effort” by bad actors.
The company struggled to remove the graphic and disturbing video, which showed a man shooting himself with a gun. The man originally livestreamed his suicide on Facebook in late August, but clips of the video were later shared to other social platforms such as TikTok.
At the time, some TikTok users began cautioning others to swipe away from the video if they come across it, and warned that it featured a bearded man sitting at a desk.
“Through our investigations, we learned that groups operating on the dark web made plans to raid social media platforms including TikTok, in order to spread the video across the internet,” Theo Bertram, director of government relations and public policy at TikTok Europe, said at a UK sub-committee on disinformation and online harms on Tuesday. “What we saw was a group of users who were repeatedly attempting to upload the video to our platform.”
Bertram added that these users were editing and cutting the video in different ways. (The dark web is an encrypted network only accessible through privacy-focused software.)
On Monday, TikTok interim head Vanessa Pappas sent a letter to the leaders of nine other social media companies, including Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, proposing that they notify each other of violent and graphic content on their own platforms, in an apparent attempt to better address such issues in the future.
TikTok also released a transparency report for the first half of the year on Tuesday. The company said it removed about 100 million videos from its platform during that period globally for breaking its rules.
The Chinese-owned company has faced months of whiplash over its future in the United States after President Trump threatened to ban the app. On Saturday, Trump said he had approved a deal between TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, and Oracle (ORCL). The deal would also include Walmart (WMT).
To get help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.