Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called on social media platforms like TikTok to better police violent and disturbing content, after footage of a man dying by suicide circulated on the short-video app.
The Herald Sun reports Morrison yesterday said it is the “responsibility” of TikTok and other social media giants to beef up their response to potentially traumatising content.
“No child should be exposed to horrifying content like this and platforms like TikTok need to put in more resources to detect and tear down this sort of harmful content,” the PM said.
He said the eSafety Commissioner – the government watchdog designed to keep Australian internet users from harm – has engaged with TikTok to “demand” the video is stripped from the platform.
Earlier, TikTok users warned their followers to beware of the footage, which trolls reportedly embedded in seemingly innocuous videos.
In particular, users were advised to avoid videos which portray a bearded man with glasses sitting at a desk.
Users warned that TikTok’s algorithm, which automatically selects what users see on the main For You page, may present viewers with that distressing content.
Some Australian schools issued warnings to students and parents about the footage, advising young users to steer clear of the app while the footage is doing the rounds.
TikTok representatives confirmed the company was “automatically detecting and flagging these clips” and “banning accounts that repeatedly try to upload” the offending footage.
We're removing content & banning accounts that repeatedly try to upload clips, and we appreciate our community members who’ve reported content & warned others against watching, engaging, or sharing such videos on any platform out of respect for the individual & their loved ones.
— TikTokSupport (@TikTokSupport) September 7, 2020
Appearing on The Project overnight, eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said the footage is not something young users can “unsee.”
Social media giants like Facebook, where the footage was first streamed, have faced intense criticism from government and digital advocacy groups for failing to police distressing footage.
“I’m frankly worried that they may have lost control,” Inman Grant said.
“It will continue to go viral, and we will continue to play a game of Whack-A-Mole. But they do need to do better.”
A little internet break’s never a bad idea, but tonight we’re strongly being encouraged to keep our kids off social media, especially TikTok.
Warning, this next story covers some disturbing subject matter. pic.twitter.com/J06NfbLE5Y
— The Project (@theprojecttv) September 8, 2020
Help is available.
If you require immediate assistance, please call 000.
If you are in distress, please call Lifeline on 13 11 14 or chat online.
Under 25? You can reach Kids Helpline at 1800 55 1800 or chat online.
You can also reach the Suicide Call Back Service on 1300 659 467 or chat online.Image: SOPA Images / @ScottMorrisonMP / Instagram