Schools Increase Security Over TikTok Threats of School Violence Across the Country on Friday
Authorities deemed the viral TikTok threats as non-credible, but school authorities nonetheless increased security.
A TikTok trend warning of nationwide school violence on Friday prompted school closures and heightened security, though authorities said the threats do not appear to be credible.
Several districts in states including Minnesota, Texas and California announced they were closing schools on Friday following a wave of videos, some mentioning specific learning institutions, telling students to avoid coming to class. At other locations, law enforcement and security officers were on high alert.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security said Friday it had received no evidence to substantiate the posts, but advised the public to "remain alert."
TikTok issued a statement Friday saying the company is monitoring its platform for suspicious activity, but said media coverage could unintentionally encourage someone who may be predisposed to commit violence to do just that.
"We are deeply concerned that the proliferation of local media reports on an alleged trend that ... could end up inspiring real world harm," the company said.
The company also said it was working with law enforcement "to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok.”
The anonymous online posts warned that multiple schools would receive shooting and bomb threats.
“We are writing to inform you and not alarm you,” Oak Park and River Forest, Illinois, school officials wrote in emails to parents. “We have been made aware of a nationwide viral TikTok trend about ‘school shooting and bomb threats for every school in the USA even elementary’ on Friday, December 17.”
The posts followed a recent, disturbing series of online challenges that encouraged students to act out as part of a "devious licks" campaign. In September, students posted videos of themselves vandalizing school bathrooms and stealing soap dispensers.
In October, students were challenged to slap their teachers. That prompted the National Education Association to petition Facebook, Twitter and TikTok to denounce and control the online challenges.
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