On February 21st, 2019 – a 19-year-old Brazil-man killed himself on TikTok’s live stream platform with a shocking 280 viewers. Not only did users report this to TikTok… but the app developers waited to call the police so they could create a public relations policy and strategy before getting help to the user.
Internal documents leaked online show TikTok employees were alerted around 5:00 p.m. on that day to the incident, which originally took place at 3:23 p.m.
TikTok wanted to make sure this never made headline news, so they enacted a gag-clause and public relations policy to prevent the news from hearing about this. TikTok also created a multi-million-dollar ad campaign to boost their social media views to bury the potential of this negative spotlight.
Between 5:00 p.m. and 7:56 p.m., the TikTok Corporation began to scramble to cover up this incident.
While the man’s lifeless body stayed on the stream, TikTok created a press statement about this matter. They cited that TikTok takes no responsibility for failures of the moderation mechanisms that left the live stream online
TikTok employees were forced to work mandatory overtime without being compensated. Their task for the next 72-hours was to monitor any and all social media outlets to ensure this never made the news. A company email sent to all employees said to make sure this did not go “viral”.
TikTok decided to put their brand’s image forward than to get help to the TikTok user.