TikTok fails to stop beheading video going viral

Occurred: June 2021

Footage of a girl dancing spliced with a highly graphic and disturbing video of a man being beheaded by a group of men in a bathroom went viral on TikTok.

Per Newsweek, the video had previously been present on gore sites for two years, with reports at the time of its initial discovery in 2019 alleging the victim was a 19-year-old Mexican man. 

Digital and human rights advocates argued TikTok's failure to detect and remove the video before it spread across its platform demonstrated the limitations of it's mostly automated content moderation system. 

TikTok said they 'quickly' removed the offending item. However, TikTok users continued to say they were too scared to use the app lest they saw the beheading. 

System 🤖

Operator: ByteDance/TikTok
Developer: ByteDance/TikTok
Country: USA
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Moderate content
Technology: Content moderation system
Issue: Safety
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: November 2021
Last updated: January 2023