A trend on video-sharing app TikTok caused nationwide security responses last week, as users shared general warnings citing potential shooting and bomb threats at schools across the United States on December 17, 2021.
The viral trend, which included warnings of rumored widespread school violence, circulated using hashtags including #december17th and garnered millions of views. In response to the warnings of violence, schools around the nation closed or added additional security.
In a statement on Twitter, TikTok addressed the trend, noting that the videos contained no threats of violence. The app's communications team tweeted, "We're working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok."
However, warnings of vague threats did spread via the app. These unconfirmed threats, which ultimately did not lead to widespread school violence throughout the nation, raise questions on the power of disinformation.