The newest craze in social media is an app called TikTok, but recently it came under fire for allowing animal cruelty videos and challenges like #PutItInABun and #clappingchallenge.
TikTok is a Chinese-owned social video app with over 500 million active user worldwide, most under the age of 25. Users upload 15 second videos of themselves or their pets all in hopes of gaining likes and followers. Since January 2019, TikTok has been downloaded more than 100 million times, making it the most downloaded non-gaming app worldwide, according to Sensor Tower.
Many of the videos are part of challenges that are started by one user and then go viral. The #PutItInABun challenge became popular and required users to tie their dog’s or cat’s ears together with a rubber band or scrunchie and post it on the app. While it may not sound like animal cruelty, animals were clearly distressed and animal welfare organizations said it opened the door to more extreme videos.
Sun Online launched an investigation into the popular app and “uncovered videos of dogs and cats desperately trying to escape as they were battered around the head to music.” It is known as the #clappingchallenge or just #clapping. Pet owners record themselves slapping a dog or cat on the back or across the face to the tune “If You’re Happy and You Know It”, with added expletives. The disturbing videos were liked by millions. The dogs and cats are clearly distressed and attempt to bite or bat at their owners to make them stop.
Another user alerted ASPCA in a tweet that showed one TikTok user slapping a small dog across the face.
@ASPCA @rickygervais so TikTok has this horrible challenge where losers smack their animals in the face-I reported this guy and nothing has been done. Can you help? This is abuse and nobody cares!🤬 pic.twitter.com/GSSx6nA4KQ
— Noelle Burton (@noellesdesigns) February 3, 2020
“These videos are a dangerous abomination – particularly for impressionable viewers, including this platform’s younger users,” PETA director Elisa Allen told Sun Online. “They normalise treating animals disrespectfully, even physically abusing them, and there’s a risk of ‘copycat’ behaviour by people who are desperate for publicity and attention – even the negative kind.”
A TikTok spokesperson told Sun Online, “We have investigated every individual case that has been raised and removed all content that violates our Community Guidelines.” They went on to say, “We use both technologies and human moderation teams to identify, review and remove dangerous or abusive content.”
Under TikTok’s Community Guidelines that were last updated January, 2020, it states, “Violent and graphic content: Animals. Do not post:
Content that is gratuitously shocking, sadistic, or excessively graphic, including but not limited to:
Depictions of the slaughter of real animals
Depictions of dismembered, mutilated, charred, or burned animal remains
Depictions of animal cruelty”.
Harming or harassing an animal is not cool, funny, or a form of entertainment. It is animal abuse and should be banned on all social media platforms. Animals are not objects to use to gain popularity but lifelong friends that deserve to be treated with respect. TikTok users are young and impressionable and need to see that animal cruelty will not be tolerated.
Sign the petition below to tell TikTok to take a stand for animals and ban all animal cruelty videos.