TikTok's troubling trends: What is the truth behind April 24?
Only a few people are aware of a very disturbing trend which became viral on TikTok in 2021. The trend resulted in unofficially designating the 24th of the month of April, which is apparently Sexual Assault Awareness Month, as "National Rape Day." A video purportedly surfaced on the Chinese video hosting service TikTok where a group of men reportedly urge others to commit sexual assault on this day by claiming that doing so is lawful.
However, TikTok in a statement to the USA Today media outlet confirmed that it has not found the purported original video on its platform. Even though the existence of the original video is not known yet, the hashtag #April24 apparently received 38 million views overall.
In reaction to the trend, hundreds of other TikTok videos were created by netizens. Some of these reaction videos offered safety advice to women. In the videos, people advised women to exercise caution and stay at home on April 24. They also went on to advise women to only travel in groups.
Meanwhile, the other videos which cropped up on TikTok as a response to the disturbing trend warned anybody who commits sexual assault on this day.
"Keeping our community safe is our priority, and we do not tolerate content that promotes or glorifies non-consensual sexual acts including rape and sexual assault,” a TikTok spokesperson wrote in an email at the time to USA Today.
“While we have not found evidence on our platform of any videos related to this subject, our safety team is remaining vigilant and we will remove content that violates our policies."
More than 100 videos on TikTok with the hashtag #april24 were examined by USA Today, but no instance of the allegedly original, menacing video was discovered. While some creators asserted to have watched the video, they did not link their posts with the said content, which makes it doubtful if the original video indeed exists.
As the investigation could not trace the original video, USA Today ranked the allegation, that a group of males on TikTok are preparing to sexually assault women on April 24 in commemoration of the unofficially designated "National Rape Day", as untrue.
Despite a plethora of responses on social media, neither USA Today nor TikTok discovered any proof that the video really made the purported threat. There are several media outlets that reported this trend however none of them substantiated weather the original video truly existed or is just part of fictitious reports.
Many law enforcement personnel joined the trend and began producing reaction videos. After the trend received a lot of attention, the police allegedly warned any potential attackers with arrests.
More than 1,000 Facebook postings and over 50 Instagram posts regarding "National Rape Day" had been made in the week before the fact-check report's publication by USA Today.