TikTok Users Are Trying to Put an End to the “Autism Challenge”
- Some TikTok users have posted videos of themselves performing a dance that mocks people with disabilities in a trend known as the “Autism Challenge.”
- But others have been quick to slam the behavior, including parents of special needs children.
- Most of the videos are now starting to disappear from the app, though it’s unclear if TikTok itself has removed them, if users took them down themselves after a flood of backlash, or if it’s a combination of the two.
New Trend Emerges
Yet another offensive TikTok trend has appeared on the app and it’s being referred to as the “Autism Challenge,” but this time around it seems like the majority of users agree that these posts are totally unacceptable.
As part of this challenge, users make hand gestures and facial expressions that mock people with disabilities while dancing along to a “parody” song called “Let’s Get Retarded.” The good news is that most of the videos have received instant backlash, prompting many to get deleted.
Angry Users Take Over the Audio
It’s unclear if posts were removed by TikTok or the creators themselves, but the hashtag #AutismChallenge has also disappeared from the app. Now, when you click on the audio used for the challenge, you’ll see that is been taken over by a flood of people slamming the trend.
A lot of posts are from people pretending they’re going to do the dance, then actually lecturing people about how disgusting it is.
Other posts are from parents of children with special needs trying to show people who exactly they’re mocking when they do this.
Calls for Take Downs
Another video criticizing the trend that has picked up a lot of attention was posted to Facebook Tuesday by a parent named Kate Swenson. Swenson is the blogger behind “Finding Cooper’s Voice”, a site where she shares her journey about raising a son with severe, non-verbal autism.
In her video, she takes a second to speak directly to one of the people who participated in the trend saying, “Do you need help? Do you need a hug? Do you need love? Do you need support? Are you not getting what you need from your parents? What is it? Because anyone that would do that is so low and so messed up I am flabbergasted.”
She also specifically expressed frustration about the fact that parents have been filming these videos with their kids.
“What are you teaching your children?” she asked. “And I bet, you know, when you’re making that video, you’re thinking momma… ‘Thank God I don’t have a child with a disability.’ You know what? I am the luckiest mom in the world compared to you because I would never ever teach my children to hate, to discriminate, to embarrass, to tease.”
“You know what I’m doing? I’m raising my children and the children in my neighborhood and the advocating that I am doing to stand up to people like you. You’re sick,” she added.
Swenson called for TikTok to take down any of these existing posts, and many Twitter users have been doing the same.
The organization Autism Speaks also issued a statement Wednesday saying it was “shocked and disturbed” by the trend. It added, “In a world where we could all use a little more kindness, we’re committed to doing our part. We urge @tiktok_us to do the same by removing this offensive content, which we’ve reported on the platform.”
As of now, TikTok hasn’t made a statement about the trend. As mentioned before, most of the original videos are now starting to disappear, but it’s not clear if TikTok had anything to do with that or if all the outrage pushed users to remove their own posts. It could be a combination of the two, but regardless, it’s pretty powerful to see TikTok users coming together to take a strong stand against this type of behavior on the app.
See what others are saying: (Daily Dot) (HITC) (Distractify)
Schools Across the U.S. Cancel Classes Friday Over Unverified TikTok Threat
Officials in multiple states said they haven’t found any credible threats but are taking additional precautions out of an abundance of safety.
Schools in no fewer than 10 states either canceled classes or increased their police presence on Friday after a series of TikToks warned of imminent shooting and bombs threats.
Despite that, officials said they found little evidence to suggest the threats are credible. It’s possible no real threat was actually ever made as it’s unclear if the supposed threats originated on TikTok, another social media platform, or elsewhere.
“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why 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,” TikTok’s Communications team tweeted Thursday afternoon.
Still, given the uptick of school shootings in the U.S. in recent years, many school districts across the country decided to respond to the rumors. According to The Verge, some districts in California, Minnesota, Missouri, and Texas shut down Friday.
“Based on law enforcement interviews, Little Falls Community Schools was specifically identified in a TikTok post related to this threat,” one school district in Minnesota said in a letter Thursday. “In conversations with local law enforcement, the origins of this threat remain unknown. Therefore, school throughout the district is canceled tomorrow, Friday, December 17.”
In Gilroy, California, one high school that closed its doors Friday said it would reschedule final exams that were expected to take place the same day to January.
According to the Associated Press, several other districts in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania stationed more police officers at their schools Friday.
Viral Misinformation or Legitimate Warnings?
As The Verge notes, “The reports of threats on TikTok may be self-perpetuating.”
For example, many of the videos online may have been created in response to initial warnings as more people hopped onto the trend. Amid school cancellations, videos have continued to sprout up — many awash with both rumors and factual information.
“I’m scared off my ass, what do I do???” one TikTok user said in a now-deleted video, according to People.
“The post is vague and not directed at a specific school, and is circulating around school districts across the country,” Chicago Public Schools said in a letter, though it did not identify any specific post. “Please do not re-share any suspicious or concerning posts on social media.”
According to Dr. Amy Klinger, the director of programs for the nonprofit Educator’s School Safety Network, “This is not 2021 phenomenon.”
Instead, she told The Today Show that her network has been tracking school shooting threats since 2013, and she noted that in recent years, they’ve become more prominent on social media.
“It’s not just somebody in a classroom of 15 people hearing someone make a threat,” she said. “It’s 15,000 people on social media, because it gets passed around and it becomes larger and larger and larger.”
See what others are saying: (The Verge) (Associated Press) (People)
Jake Paul Says He “Can’t Get Cancelled” as a Boxer
The controversial YouTuber opened up about what it has been like to go from online fame to professional boxing.
The New Yorker Profiles Jake Paul
YouTuber and boxer Jake Paul talked about his career switch, reputation, and cancel culture in a profile published Monday in The New Yorker.
While Paul rose to fame as the Internet’s troublemaker, he now spends most of his time in the ring. He told the outlet that one difference between YouTube and boxing is that his often controversial reputation lends better to his new career.
“One thing that is great about being a fighter is, like, you can’t get cancelled,” Paul said. The profile noted that the sport often rewards and even encourages some degree of bad behavior.
“I’m not a saint,” Paul later continued. “I’m also not a bad guy, but I can very easily play the role.”
Paul also said the other difference between his time online and his time in boxing is the level of work. While he says he trains hard, he confessed that there was something more challenging about making regular YouTube content.
“Being an influencer was almost harder than being a boxer,” he told The New Yorker. “You wake up in the morning and you’re, like, Damn, I have to create fifteen minutes of amazing content, and I have twelve hours of sunlight.”
Jake Paul Vs. Tommy Fury
The New Yorker profile came just after it was announced over the weekend Paul will be fighting boxer Tommy Fury in an 8-round cruiserweight fight on Showtime in December.
“It’s time to kiss ur last name and ur family’s boxing legacy goodbye,” Paul tweeted. “DEC 18th I’m changing this wankers name to Tommy Fumbles and celebrating with Tom Brady.”
Both Paul and Fury are undefeated, according to ESPN. Like Paul, Fury has found fame outside of the sport. He has become a reality TV star in the U.K. after appearing on the hit show “Love Island.”
See what others are saying: (The New Yorker) (Dexerto) (ESPN)
Hackers Hit Twitch Again, This Time Replacing Backgrounds With Image of Jeff Bezos
The hack appears to be a form of trolling, though it’s possible that the infiltrators were able to uncover a security flaw while reviewing Twitch’s newly-leaked source code.
Hackers targeted Twitch for a second time this week, but rather than leaking sensitive information, the infiltrators chose to deface the platform on Friday by swapping multiple background images with a photo of former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos.
According to those who saw the replaced images firsthand, the hack appears to have mostly — and possibly only — affected game directory headers. Though the incident appears to be nothing more than a surface-level prank, as Amazon owns Twitch, it could potentially signal greater security flaws.
For example, it’s possible the hackers could have used leaked internal security data from earlier this week to discover a network vulnerability and sneak into the platform.
The latest jab at the platforms came after Twitch assured its users it has seen “no indication” that their login credentials were stolen during the first hack. Still, concerns have remained regarding the potential for others to now spot cracks in Twitch’s security systems.
It’s also possible the Bezos hack resulted from what’s known as “cache poisoning,” which, in this case, would refer to a more limited form of hacking that allowed the infiltrators to manipulate similar images all at once. If true, the hackers likely would not have been able to access Twitch’s back end.
The photo changes only lasted several hours before being returned to their previous conditions.
First Twitch Hack
Despite suspicions and concerns, it’s unclear whether the Bezos hack is related to the major leak of Twitch’s internal data that was posted to 4chan on Wednesday.
That leak exposed Twitch’s full source code — including its security tools — as well as data on how much Twitch has individually paid every single streamer on the platform since August 2019.
It also revealed Amazon’s at least partially developed plans for a cloud-based gaming library, codenamed Vapor, which would directly compete with the massively popular library known as Steam.
Even though Twitch has said its login credentials appear to be secure, it announced Thursday that it has reset all stream keys “out of an abundance of caution.” Users are still being urged to change their passwords and update or implement two-factor authentication if they haven’t already.