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7.7.20
Troubling Timeline

TikTok Waited Three Hours to Tell Cops About Livestreamed Suicide

February 7th 20__Kristin Houser__Filed Under: Future Society
Victor Tangermann

Wrong Priorities

In February 2019, a 19-year-old Brazilian man livestreamed his suicide on the popular video-sharing app TikTok. An hour and a half later, TikTok noticed and removed the video.

Three hours after that, TikTok finally contacted the police, a former employee of the Brazilian offices of TikTok parent company ByteDance has told The Intercept Brazil — and it spent those hours putting together a public relations strategy.

Clock’s Ticking

The employee, who spoke under the condition of anonymity, provided the Intercept with an image of an internal document detailing TikTok’s minute-by-minute response to the livestreamed suicide.

It suggests that TikTok found out about the stream via messages from influencers on WhatsApp — and not from the team in China tasked with monitoring content.

“The main issue was just how unprepared the Chinese team was for a situation like this,” the source told the Intercept, “where the app’s algorithm didn’t catch that it was a suicide, let alone bring down the livestream, even after so many complaints.”

Standard Statement

The Intercept wrote that TikTok didn’t answer any of its specific questions about the incident, but did provide a statement.

“We remain deeply saddened by this tragic incident and sympathize with the family,” the statement said. “We encourage anyone who needs support or is concerned about a friend or family member to contact a suicide hotline.”

READ MORE: TikTok Livestreamed a User’s Suicide — Then Got Its PR Strategy in Place Before Calling the Police [The Intercept]

More on TikTok: Researchers Find Major Security Flaws in Popular App TikTok