The year 2023 witnessed a proliferation of alarming trends on the popular social media platform, TikTok, posing serious risks to public safety worldwide. Although the platform had encountered numerous challenges in the past, it found itself immersed in yet another wave of hazardous content.
In Australia, a disturbing trend called ‘WhipTok’ or ‘chroming’ emerged, which involved inhaling aerosol deodorant fumes. Tragically, this dangerous practice resulted in the death of a 13-year-old girl. The trend garnered an astonishing 546.3 million views, serving as a sobering reminder of the grave consequences that can arise from viral challenges.
Indonesia was similarly devastated the ‘Angel of Death’ challenge, which entailed individuals purposefully jumping in front of moving trucks. This senseless game claimed the lives of at least two people, prompting local authorities to intervene and issue warnings against participating in life-threatening stunts.
In a shocking turn of events, the improper use of the common antihistamine, Benadryl, for its hallucinogenic effects led to the death of a 15-year-old in Oklahoma. Referred to as the Benadryl Challenge, this trend prompted stern admonitions from both Johnson & Johnson and the FDA regarding the severe risks associated with its misuse.
Further endangering individuals’ well-being was the consumption of household products like Borax, purportedly as a health remedy. This perilous practice resulted in multiple hospitalizations and even fatalities, underscoring the pressing need for tighter content moderation on platforms like TikTok.
Other hazardous trends, such as the ‘passout challenge’, ‘Dragon’s Breath’, and ‘Skull Breaker Challenge’, have also caused injuries, hospitalizations, and fatalities. These various challenges range from self-induced choking to consuming candy coated in liquid nitrogen, as well as causing others to fall while attempting dangerous stunts. It is abundantly clear that stronger safety protocols are urgently required on social media platforms to prevent further harm.
As we enter 2024, it is imperative for TikTok and similar platforms to enhance their vigilance and commitment to user safety. While the company has urged users to prioritize their well-being and refrain from engaging in dangerous activities, the effectiveness of these pleas remains uncertain in curbing the proliferation of risky trends.