Earlier this month there were reports of a graphic suicide video circulating on social media. The clip in question was apparently streamed live on Facebook before it eventually made its way to other platforms. Among those affected was TikTok, which was already the subject of controversy over its alleged ties to the Chinese Communist Party which it has since denied. After a thorough investigation, the company now has evidence that suggest it was a coordinated and deliberate attack.

Due to the sensitive nature of the footage in question, the popular video-sharing service attempted to control its distribution across its vast user base. With as many as 18 million daily active users flagged as minors, moderators did their best to stop its circulation. Accounts that were confirmed to have uploaded or shared it were reportedly banned by the developers.

This apparently led to TikTok becoming the target of criticism for its failure to control the spread of harmful content. Nevertheless, the company noted that it was likely intentional based on the data collected by its team. In fact, those responsible attempted to edit, cut, and splice the clip in an effort to fool the system. Furthermore, some even created new accounts in order to reupload and share the video.

"There's evidence of a coordinated attack," said TikTok's European director of public policy Theo Bertram. "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. What we saw was a group of users who were repeatedly attempting to upload the video to our platform," according to ABC News.

Approximately 104.5 million videos were taken down in the first half of 2020 for violations against TikTok's terms and conditions. The data was included in a transparency report which surprisingly shows that number as less than one percent of the total number of uploads made during the period. ByteDance is the Beijing-based multinational group that owns the platform, which now faces a ban in the United States due to national security concerns.

TikTok Benadryl Challenge
The US government has said TikTok is a national security threat - allegations the company denies Photo: AFP / Olivier DOULIERY

India, on the other hand, continues its crusade against all apps with ties to China. This prompted the PUBG Corporation to end its partnership with Tencent in order to hopefully have their popular mobile game reinstated on Google Play and the App Store in the country.