TikTok spliced beheading video goes viral

Occurred: June 2021

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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 the incident demonstrated the limitations of the company's content moderation system, which proved unable to detect and block the video before it spread across its platform. 

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

Operator: ByteDance/TikTok
Developer: ByteDance/TikTok
Country: USA
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Detect offensive content
Technology: Recommendation algorithm
Issue: Safety
Transparency: Governance; Black box

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