TikTok Says Being Victim of Mass Shooting ‘Could Result in You Getting Hurt’

The company showed users a confusing banner when watching a video shot inside Oxford High School, where a gunman killed four students.
Image: Scott Olson/Getty Images

On Tuesday, a gunman shot 11 people and killed four students in a mass shooting at Oxford High School in Michigan. 

One student inside the school took their phone out and filmed the scene inside the classroom, where students were locked in. The gunman was outside, asking to be let in and pretending to be a sheriff.

“Sheriff's office. It's safe to come out,” the gunman said, according to the video


The students did not fall for it. And when the person outside insisted and said “come to the door and look at my badge bro,” the students realized the person on the other side of the door was not who he said he was. 

“He said bro, he said bro,” one student can be heard saying.

“He said bro, red flag,” another responded. 

At that point the students decided to run out of the window. 

When watching the video, TikTok showed some users a banner saying: “Participating in this activity could result in you or others getting hurt.”

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A screenshot of the Oxford High School video, with the superimposed warning. (Image: Motherboard)

This banner is one that TikTok generally uses for people doing extreme sports—for example, it can be seen on videos of people doing tricks on a pogo stick, bungie jumping, or doing stunt car racing. TikTok's community guidelines bans ​"Dangerous acts," and it puts banners on content that don't necessarily break the rules but are potentially dangerous:

"We define risky activities or other dangerous behavior as acts conducted in a non-professional context or without the necessary skills and safety precautions that may lead to serious injury or death for the user or the public," TikTok's community guidelines say. "We do not allow content that depicts, promotes, normalizes, or glorifies such behavior, including amateur stunts or dangerous challenges."


The upsetting thing here, beyond the fact that there has been yet another mass shooting in an American school, is that TikTok is essentially recommending that its users not be the victims of or nearby mass shootings.

We asked TikTok why this message appears at the bottom of the video, and whether it’s automatically placed there, or the process involves manual review. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

UPDATE, Dec. 2, 10:15 a.m. ET: After this story was published, a TikTok spokesperson said that these labels are applied “manually” by a “safety team member.”

“An incorrect label was briefly applied and quickly corrected as shown below.” the spokesperson said in an email, sharing the following screenshot:


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