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Is TikTok contributing to gang violence?

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It is reported that the social media platform TikTok, which currently has over 4 million users worldwide, is being used to fuel gang violence in what is described to be sick video gaming style videos of murders and stabbings. Users of the platform have been making drill music boasting about the offences they have committed and the damage they have inflicted on people. Due to TikTok currently being a popular platform, people are now finding other ways to use the platform, such as sending messages between rivals. 

Research shows that it isn’t just TikTok in particular which is used as a tool with malicious intent towards others. Whilst social media is a huge advantage and a necessity to some for many reasons such as their career and keeping in contact with family members etc, Almost half of the people questioned ranging from ages 11 to 25 have experienced some form of bullying or aggressive messages at some point. Encouraging  85% of people have admitted to wanting social media companies to do more in order to tackle and prevent bullying and aggressive behaviour. 

The National Centre for Gang Research at University of West London has found that social media is also now used to recruit gang members, groom potential gang members and associate with a group of gang members. Whilst not having to live anywhere near the estate of the gang. This makes gang rivalry a lot more common and easier to get involved in as it may have been previously. 

In comparison to other social media platforms, TikTok in particular presents an opportunity for gang members and young people in terms of creating content of a violent nature. 

Despite the diversity among the users of TikTok including influencers and celebrities of all ages, the majority of the audience is younger. The violent content which is uploaded to the app may manipulate people to view this behaviour as ‘cool’ or ‘in Trend’. The more graphic content young people see, the more it becomes normalised contributing to a possible higher crime rate. The main focus of many countries is the safety of users on the app,whilst this is undoubtedly important, violent content is being dismissed. If the younger generation is consistently being exposed to content of this nature, there are endless possibilities of what it may result in. 

In my opinion whilst there are many positive factors of social media, I do agree with the statement that it is used to glorify and glamorise brutal crimes. However, I don’t think that TikTok is the only platform this happens on. The rise in gang members using TikTok is simply due to its growing popularity and the diversity of users it attracts as does any other platform. In order to tackle the use of social media to glorify crimes and the participation in gang violence, gang violence in general needs to be prevented. If authorities are monitoring potential gang violence closely, including on the Internet, it will become less advertised on social media.

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