Video first appeared on Facebook in late August and has been edited and uploaded to other platforms
Australian prime minister Scott Morrison is demanding a horrifying video circulating on social media platform TikTok be taken down.
Parents, schools and social media users were warned on Tuesday that versions of a video showing an American man killing himself are being widely circulated across digital platforms in Australia.
The federal government’s eSafety office contacted state, territory and federal education departments and authorities on Tuesday to advise them of the video and how to report it. Support services have also been contacted.
The prime minister said the laws and standards of behaviour for the real world must also apply online.
“Platforms like TikTok need to put in more resources to detect and tear down this sort of harmful content. That is their responsibility.”
The video first appeared on Facebook in late August and had been downloaded, edited and uploaded to other platforms, including Instagram, TikTok and Twitter, according to Kirra Pendergast, chief executive of Safe on Social.
Some users on TikTok posted warnings about the video, saying if they came across a video showing a man with long hair and a beard on a phone they should swipe away quickly.
The eSafety commissioner, Julie Inman Grant, said in a statement it was working with the major social media platforms about “distressing reports about a video of a suicide”.
“This is another example of the viral nature of the internet and the damaging effects content like this can have on those who view this harmful material – as well as for the family of the person in the video,” she said.
“Social media companies need to use the tools at their disposal to detect and remove this content much more quickly.
“We advise parents, carers and educators to keep an eye on those who are more vulnerable and at-risk, and checking in with them about their interactions on and offline.”
Anyone who encountered versions of the video should report it immediately to the social media platform where they saw it, or at the eSafety office’s website.
“Drawing young people’s attention to the issue may cause unnecessary worry or distress and increase exposure,” she said.
Pendergast told Guardian Australia the son of one of her staff members had told her about the video.
She said some versions of the video had been edited to show images of kittens at the start, before cutting to the footage of the American man that she said was originally livestreamed on Facebook.
Is anyone else’s FYP full of videos warning people on TikTok of a graphic video going around? Said video seems to have gone around 4chan a few days ago and I guess has made its way to TikTok. I haven’t seen it on TikTok, but I’m seeing a flood of these types of warning videos. pic.twitter.com/hZPQQg1tXd
She advised parents of teenagers to make them aware of the video and talk to them about support services.
“If they have little children, perhaps say that TikTok is broken for a few days,” she said. “If people see it, it is very important that they report it to the platform they saw it on.”
A statement from TikTok provided to the ABC said the clip first appeared on Facebook before being circulated on other platforms.
“Our systems have been automatically detecting and flagging these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies or promotes suicide,” the statement said.
“We are banning accounts that repeatedly try to upload clips, and we appreciate our community members who’ve reported content and warned others against watching, engaging, or sharing such videos on any platform out of respect for the person and their family.”
In the UK and Ireland, Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123 or email [email protected] or [email protected]. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is 13 11 14. Other international helplines can be found at www.befrienders.org.
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