Alabama’s top police agency denied a widespread report that four people attempting a viral TikTok challenge died while jumping from moving boats in the state. And, a TikTok spokesperson said no boat jumping challenge was trending on its platform. A report quoting the captain of an Alabama rescue squad was repeated countless times by news outlets, online bloggers and social media users around the world. But, police said they had “no records of boating or marine-related deaths” linked to TikTok. The rescue squad captain later said his comments “got blown way out of proportion.”
Class discussion: Why didn’t anyone check the facts before repeating this story of a “deadly TikTok challenge?” Are people quick to believe and repeat stories that support their existing opinions or prejudices? Have you ever repeated a story that turned out to be false? Were you willing to admit you wrong? Are stories based on fears the ones most likely to become “viral” in the media and on the internet? Over the years, adults have blamed comic books, television and video games for corrupting youth. Is TikTok just the latest target of adults worried about the safety of “innocent” young people?