Calls for TikTok to shut down viral post threatening schools

TikTok says they are working with law enforcement to investigate the threat  (Getty Images)
TikTok says they are working with law enforcement to investigate the threat (Getty Images)

Parents and concerned citizens are asking TikTok to take down a disturbing trend of hoax threats to schools.

The anonymous social media threat has suggested that violent acts could take place on 17 December in schools across the country.

It has prompted school officials in a number of states, including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York and Pennsylvania, to beef up security presence and even close down for a day.

Several school districts have also written to parents and encouraged them to speak to their children about the viral trend.

“We are writing to inform you and not alarm you,” school administrators of Oak Park and River Forest High School, Illinois said in an email to parents.

“We have been made aware of a nationwide viral TikTok trend ... on Friday, 17 December the letter added.

In Florida, the Citrus County school district released a statement on Thursday urging parents and students not to promote the social media post.

“It seems students, along with parents, are either sharing a post or manipulating the original post to reflect a new threat at a specific school. This is creating disruption at many of our schools today,” read the statement that was posted on the district’s Facebook page.

A few districts announced plans to close school buildings on Friday, including Gilroy High School in northern California. Even though Gilroy police said they had found threats on social media not to be credible, school officials decided to postpone final exams that were scheduled for Friday to January out of caution.

Last Tuesday, schools in Oxford County, Maine were forced to shutter after a school district received a threat aimed at staff and students.

Parents took to social media to slam TikTok for what they said was a lack of promptness in taking action against the violent trend.

“Hey why has TikTok done nothing about a nationwide ‘trend’ or whatever the f*** you want to call it ... ,” asked writer and filmmaker Audrey Wauchope Lieberstein on Twitter.

Author Elizabeth C McLaughlin said the threat in schools caused “our superintendent to send out a letter to parents of all 40,000 students here”.

“I am so sick of this country,” she added.

Ken Frawley, another concerned Twitter user, wrote: “We seriously need to take a look at our country’s mental health ... And what is TikTok doing to shut this down.”

The Independent contacted TikTok to ask about what actions the company was taking over the threats. A spokesperson referred to the company’s latest statement on Twitter, where it said it was working with law enforcement to investigate, even though “we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok”.

In October, an earlier viral trend challenged students to slap a teacher, prompting the National Education Association to call on Facebook, Twitter and TikTok officials to intervene.