Clock ticking for TikTok, PM calls them out in suicide storm


Social media app TikTok has been put on notice to better "detect and tear down" harmful content after vile ­internet trolls used videos of kittens and puppies to lure children into watching a graphic suicide clip.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has condemned the "horrifying" content circulating on the Chinese-owned video platform yesterday, potentially ­exposing millions of young people to footage of a 33-year-old US man taking his own life.

The controversial app, which is hugely popular among Australian children and young teens, has repeatedly failed to take down the suicide footage as it reappeared among other videos.

Mr Morrison, whose own daughters are aged 11 and 13, said "real world" laws and standards of behaviour "must also apply online".

"No child should be ­exposed to horrifying content like this and platforms like TikTok need to put in more ­resources to detect and tear down this sort of harmful content," he said. "That is their ­responsibility."

Mr Morrison said the government's eSafety Commissioner was "engaging closely" with TikTok to "demand the video is removed".

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian condemned the video: "This is a horrifying and stark example of why we need to do everything we can to protect children and families from the dangers of social media."

NSW Treasurer Dominic Perrottet agreed, saying "social media companies need to have a social compact with the community to ensure our kids are safe and not exposed to harmful material like this."


Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there must be real-world laws applied in the online space. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says there must be real-world laws applied in the online space. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch


Video of the US man taking his life was livestreamed on Facebook on August 31, before it spread to TikTok, often hidden at the end of unrelated clips, and then appeared on ­Instagram and Twitter.

Schools across the country yesterday sent warnings to parents advising them to keep children away from TikTok for at least the next two days.

Loretto Normanhurst's dir­ector of pastoral care Sally Munro told parents to keep their child offline and "heavily supervise" all social media interactions until the distressing content was removed. She said the school was receiving reports clips of puppies and kittens were being used to "lure kids into seeing the (suicide) video".

Australian eSafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant warned the footage could harm young and vulnerable people  who  viewed it, and TikTok  and  other social media needed to work faster to delete it.

For help contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or young people can call the Kids Helpline for support on 1800 55 1800.

Originally published as Clock ticking for TikTok as PM calls them out in suicide storm