TikTok Suicide Video was a co-ordinated attack

TikTok suicide video upload was a co-ordinated dark web attack

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TikTok says that a video of a man committing suicide that circulated on its platform was deliberately spread by a group of users working together.

The company found evidence of a “coordinated attack” when it investigated why the video was suddenly appearing on the video sharing app, a TikTok executive told a British parliamentary committee Tuesday.

TikTok scrambled earlier this month to remove clips of the man shooting himself with a gun, raising concerns about the platform’s ability to stop harmful content from reaching its users, many of whom are teens.

Theo Bertram, TikTok’s European director of public policy, said there was a huge spike in the number of clips uploaded to TikTok about a week after the original video was live-streamed on Facebook.

“There is evidence of a coordinated attack and 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,” said Bertram in an appearance before the UK government’s sub-committee into online harms and disinformation.

“What we saw was a group of users who were repeatedly attempting to upload the video to our platform, splicing it, editing it, cutting it in different ways, and joining the platform in order to try and drive that.”

He said that there was a “huge spike in volume” of the clip being uploaded to TikTok on 6 September. He added that the ways in which the video was viewed showed “quite an unusual pattern”. Usually, videos are discovered in their suggested feed or by clicking on hashtags. The suicide clip instead saw people viewing the TikTok video more directly, he said.

Bertram said that TikTok’s “emergency machine learning services kicked in, and they detected the videos, and we quickly removed them”. TikTok said it has banned all the accounts that uploaded the video.

The company wrote Monday to the CEOs of Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, Twitter, Twitch, Snapchat, Pinterest and Reddit to “establish a partnership for dealing with this type of content”.

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