State Watch

State AG seeks meeting with TikTok CEO over ‘Slap a Teacher’ challenge

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Connecticut Attorney General William Tong (D) on Monday urged TikTok leadership to meet with teachers and parents in the state — and himself — to address the “Slap a Teacher” challenge on the app.

“TikTok fails to control the spread of dangerous content. In CT, vandalism closed schools and the new “Slap a Teacher” challenge may put educators at risk. I am urging TikTok to come to CT to meet with educators and parents and commit to reforms that stop this reckless content,” Tong tweeted.

The challenge involves a student calmly approaching a teacher and slapping them. It was scheduled to begin in October, though it does not seem to have caught on yet to a significant extent.

In South Carolina’s Lancaster County, however, parents were warned about the challenge on Monday after an elementary school student appeared to have followed through with the dare, WYFF reported.

“Unfortunately, the challenge that has been put out for this month is to slap or hit a staff member from behind,” the district told parents. “Sadly, we actually had an elementary student assault a teacher by striking her in the back of the head.”

In a letter addressed to TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew, Tong requested a meeting with him to discuss “the harmful impact TikTok is having on the mental and physical safety of young people in Connecticut.”

He pointed the September “Devious Licks” TikTok challenge in which students vandalized and stole public property, with many teens taking this dare to their schools.

“Now, there is a new concern that a viral ‘Slap a Teacher’ may be putting educators at risk. Families and educators are already coping with the unprecedented social and emotional fallout of the pandemic,” Tong said. “The last thing anyone needs right now is for children to be inundated by targeted social media encouraging lawlessness, self-harm and reckless, dangerous behavior.”

While he commended TikTok for acting to remove the “Devious Licks” challenge, Tong said the app negatively affected young people, pointing to “youth overdosing on medications, disfiguring their bodies, and engaging in a wide variety of physically dangerous acts.”

“Simply put, whatever TikTok has been doing to enforce its terms of service has not been working and merits serious review and reform. I ask that you share a detailed description of all policies and procedures in place to prevent against abuse and misuse of your platform,” Tong wrote.

The Hill has reached out to TikTok for a response.

This is not the first time the app has been targeted by U.S. government officials. In the summer of last year, former President Trump said he would ban TikTok from operating in the U.S., citing concerns that data from American users was being shared with the Chinese government.

A federal judge issued an order barring the Trump administration from stopping TikTok from being downloaded and the ban ultimately did not come to pass.

Tags Censorship of TikTok Connecticut Devious licks Donald Trump Shou Zi Chew teachers tiktok Violence William Tong Youth culture

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