Amid protests revolving around the death of George Floyd, TikTok was accused of censoring posts from users writing the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd. The video-sharing platform blamed the problem on a glitch, but many users don’t believe that’s the true reason.
Now, an insensitive “George Floyd TikTok Challenge” is sparking outrage. A new petition has emerged that demands TikTok to remove all of the content involving this challenge.
Last week, users were briefly unable to see TikToks using the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd. According to a spokesperson, a glitch in the system caused this to happen. As well, the glitch reportedly also happened to various other hashtags not involved with the Black Lives Matter movement.
“This [the glitch] appears to affect words at random, including terms like #cat and #hello,” TikTok said to TheWrap in a statement.
However, many TikTok users believe the censorship of these particular hashtags was due to more than just a system error.
We are deactivating TikTok. It was one thing when the algorithm didn’t favour black people. It’s even worse that in an age of spreading awareness, censorship is being exercised through the blocking of hashtags related to the fight against police brutality, while racist thrive.
— REENIE STAN ACCT. Darynel Weekly #Manifesting2020 (@darynelweekly) May 29, 2020
I just tried to post #BlacklivesMatter on tiktok and they temporarily blocked me from posting… all I used was the hash tag. @tiktok_us censorship is 🖕🏼 🗑🗑🗑 be aware they are blocking posts from spreading awareness
— iCarly (@carlyrosexo) June 4, 2020
Apparently, some videos with #BlackLivesMattter reflected 0 views on TikTok despite being viewed multiple times. The company called it a “technical glitch”. My guess is, it was just an intentional act of censorship.
— Mallika Tiwari (@mallika1101) June 3, 2020
Now, TikTok is at the front of another controversy. This past week, an insensitive “George Floyd Challenge” emerged onto the platform.
Floyd was killed at the hands of Minneapolis police after officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes. According to an autopsy report, Floyd died as a result of “asphyxiation from sustained pressure” from Chauvin even as Floyd pleaded “I can’t breathe.”
Now, individuals are taking to TikTok for the George Floyd challenge. Young individuals are sharing images and videos of themselves attempting to replicate how Floyd was murdered in this new TikTok challenge. They are laying face down on the ground while another person puts their knee on the individual’s neck.
Twitter. Find these fools. Call them out. We need to know what kind of absolute morons thought they could do this and get away with it. These men are the problem. Find them. I don’t condone violence, but there need to be repercussions for their actions. #GeorgeFloydChallenge pic.twitter.com/DQdATBQU6X
— Bluest Knight (@DaBluestKnight) June 2, 2020
The #GeorgeFloydChallenge hashtag has racked up almost 55,000 posts so far. Many Black Lives Matter supporters are flooding the hashtag with images of George Floyd as well as their outrage and discontentment for the challenge.
Images from the challenge have since appeared on other social media platforms and many are calling out both TikTok and the participants.
“This is sickening,” singer Ciara tweets. “Crushing! I don’t have words!! Please end this NOW! Praying for Love in your hearts. Jesus We Need You.”
This is sickening! Crushing! I don’t have words!! Please end this NOW! Praying for Love in your hearts. Jesus We Need You 💔 pic.twitter.com/6PxlnMAG5M
— Ciara (@ciara) June 3, 2020
“This is sickening and deeply disturbing that there is a George Floyd challenge going around in the US,” journalism Ahmer Khan says.
— Ahmer Khan (@ahmermkhan) June 4, 2020
So far, a few Snapchats, tweets, Instagram posts and Reddit posts have emerged of individuals taking part in the challenge. However, the majority of these original posts have since been taken down. At this time, all of the Instagram posts using the hashtag have been removed.
Now, Black Lives Matter supporters are directly targeting TikTok in a new petition. They want the video-sharing platform to take responsibility for the insensitive messages and images being spread through this challenge and remove it all. The Have TikTok remove any content involving “George Floyd Challenge” has racked up over 10,000 signatures so far.
Although this challenge is unlikely to go viral, it’s clear that TikTok could be doing more. So far, TikTok hasn’t used any form of censorship to stop the #GeorgeFloydChallenge. Due to this, many individuals are taking matters into their own hands. They are spreading the images from the challenge across the internet in hopes of finding the individuals involved. So far, a number of people have been identified.
On May 29, two photos from the challenge emerged from Snapchat. One of the images was taken by three U.K. teenagers and featured the words “police brutality.” This photo eventually caught the attention of local police and they arrested the three teens, calling the photo a “hate crime.”
The three teens have since been released on bail, but according to the Daily Mail who spoke to one of the officers, they are investigating the situation further.
“We can confirm we are investigating after an image was shared on social media which showed two men imitating the recent death of U.S. citizen George Floyd,” an officer says. “They have since been released on bail. We understand that this social media post has caused significant upset and we want to reassure the public it is being investigated robustly and is being treated as a hate crime.”
The insensitive TikTok challenge is just one of my many instances where TikTok users created this type of content. In the past, challenges involving autism, seizures, abuse and more have appeared. For TikTok, the platform has done very little to censor hurtful content or have taken a long time to remove it from its platform. It now appears it’s doing the same with this new challenge amid the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests.
At this time, TikTok has made no comment regarding the George Floyd challenge and the hashtag is still live on its platform.
As of June 3, four officers involved in the wrongful killing of Floyd have been charged.
You can sign the Have TikTok remove any content involving “George Floyd Challenge” here.
To show support through donations, connect with grassroots campaigns and obtain resources for allies, please refer to the links below.
Help the family of George Floyd here.
Fight for Breonna Taylor here.
Help the family of Ahmaud Arbery here.
To sign petitions for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and more, click here.
Donate to one or more community bail funds for protesters here.
Click here for more resources for protestors including pro-bono lawyers.
Visit Movement For Black Lives for additional ways you can help the cause.
Click here to connect with leaders building grassroots campaigns.
Here are some anti-racism resources for allies who want to learn more.
For other ways to donate, please head here.