TikTok has garnered a reputation for its viral trends. Among them is some of the most shockingly problematic content in circulation.
Here’s 10 of the worst TikTok trends to date:
#10 The Wind Tunnel
With 4.1 million replications, the popular facial effect known as the ‘wind tunnel’ was used for comedy to the tune of a well-known Indian song. While it seems innocent enough, some critics have pointed out the underlying racist microaggression in mocking Indian music.
This trend saw users sharing everything they ate in a day compiled into 60 second clips. While many displayed regular, healthy diets, some TikTokers had their daily meals totalling less than 900 calories. These unhealthy diets were criticised heavily by nutritionists for dipping well below the regular daily intake of 2000-2500 calories, thus arguably promoting disordered eating.
#8 Cut it Off
The trend involved girls ‘pranking’ their boyfriends into thinking women grew a penis each month, which had to be cut off to avoid infection, and that’s what periods are. While this is clearly a joke to most, it’s potentially harmful to young and impressionable children on the platform, not to mention the connotations of transphobia and FGM.
This time, parents had a hand in the pranks as they recorded their children’s reaction to meeting their “new teacher”. The kicker? The images weren’t of teachers but of the disabled and those with physical deformities. Finding humour in encouraging children to fear people who look different is not only cruel, but ableist. The challenge was called out on social media by disability activists who took the opportunity to educate parents on the matter.
Just one of the many POV-style TikToks, these videos cater to viewer’s fantasies of having a jealous boyfriend. Although, things take a turn for the problematic with the “boyfriends” showing off behaviour that borders on abusive. One TikTok titled “POV: A jealous boyfriend crashes the party”, features threats that end with gunshots.
Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s hit song “WAP” spawned a viral dance challenge with some undeniably provocative moves. Naturally, TikTok’s young userbase meant legions of minors tried their hand at the challenge, only to end of up in compilation videos on Pornhub. The site apparently tried to remove the content, but hasn’t been entirely successful yet.
#4 BLM Makeup
This trend saw opportunistic influencers use the Black Lives Matter movement as “inspiration” for their makeup looks. One such example is 16-year-old TikToker “catharinas_beauty” who gave herself a half-blackface look to the tune of Donald Glover’s “This is America”. The blatant racism coupled with using BLM for clout got these creators into hot water.
#3 Trauma Porn
Yes, it is as bad as it sounds. Trauma porn involves TikTokers pretending to be victims of the Holocaust, 9/11, and Ted Bundy. Supposedly done in order to flex their acting muscles, the fame-hungry teens don fake bruises and cuts while delivering a teary monologue to the camera. It’s no surprise this trend was widely criticised as both anti-Semitic and insensitive to victims of terrorism and murder.
The ‘daddy’ meme might have gone too far, with POV Incest-themed thirst traps taking off on the platform. The setup involves a child walking in on their parents in inappropriate situations – ‘watching a scary movie’ or ‘wresting’, and then the parent or child being sexualised. One TikTok ends with the daughter joining her parents. The content was particularly triggering to survivors of child sexual abuse, not to mention all-round cringeworthy.
With other social media platforms cracking down on misinformation, TikTok has become home to some of the most insane COVID-19 conspiracy theories. The content ranges from warning against the vaccine and it’s disastrous side effects to calling on users to storm their local hospital and expose the truth. It goes without saying that spreading pseudoscientific propaganda in the midst of a pandemic is both irresponsible and extremely dangerous.
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