Americans are on edge after new threatening TikTok challenge surfaces, causing school districts nationwide to take heightened precautions. The new disturbing challenge encourages students to “commit acts of violence” on Friday (December 17), according to PEOPLE.
Warnings that a series of school shootings will occur Friday (December 17), in addition to acts of violence because of the inaction of the challenge, has gotten many Americans fearful. Despite there not being any credible evidence that the challenge will be happening, authorities across the country are on high alert anyway—at the recommendation of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.
“DHS is aware of public reporting that suggests possible threats to schools on December 17, 2021. DHS does not have any information indicating any specific, credible threats to schools but recommends communities remain alert,” DHS tweeted this morning.
Since Thursday (December 16), multiple states have responded to the potential threat including: Florida, Arizona, Minnesota, Connecticut, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The authorities in each state have spoken out, providing insight into where they stand with the occurrence of the TikTok challenge.
Upon authorities investigation in the responsive states, Maryland’s Baltimore Public Schools announcement reported that the challenge rumor, which originated in Arizona, isn’t credible.
“Law enforcement agencies have investigated this threat and determined that it originated in Arizona and is not credible. We want to continue to encourage members of Team BCPS to report suspicious or threatening activities or postings,” Baltimore County Public Schools tweeted Thursday (December 16).
Alongside Maryland, the other states that are on high alert have also released announcements. The leading consensus is that the TikTok challenge threat may be a hoax.
“Many of our schools are being inundated with parent calls this morning asking about these latest threats and their validity,” Florida’s Citrus County School District wrote in a statement published to Twitter on Thursday (December 16). “As of Thursday morning, we have not received any indication of a credible threat to any of our schools.”
As noted by FOX29 News, “In Wisconsin, the Waukesha School District and Menomonee School District issued letters to parents this week. “Parents, we are asking you to discuss this with your children,” the district’s deputy superintendent wrote in a letter obtained by FOX 6 Milwaukee. “We take all threats seriously and any threats against the school or district will be disciplined to the greatest extent possible, up to and including expulsion from school. If you or your child hears of any specific threat to our district, we ask that you please report it immediately.”
On Thursday (December 16) Minnesota’s Winona Police Department released a safety alert on social media.
“We have been made aware of a challenge circulating in recent days on TikTok to threaten gun violence in schools on Friday, Dec. 17. There have been no specific threats made against any Winona schools, but we want to be proactive in preventing someone from committing a serious crime,” officials wrote. “If anyone participates in this challenge they could be facing felony crimes and possible expulsion from school. This is not something we will take lightly.”
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety also released a statement on Thursday (December 16).
“As of Thursday morning, at least three schools in Minnesota have located similar threat reporting. However, local and state law enforcement have not identified the threat as credible at this time,” the department wrote. “At this time, DPS is reporting that the origins of this threat remain unknown and there is no evidence to suggest that any mass causality or severe violence incidents will occur on this date, within Minnesota or the U.S. more broadly.”
The Connecticut State Police released a news release on Thursday (December 16) explaining their knowledge about the challenge, and their determination to find the culprit of said challenge.
“Any school threat that is made in Connecticut is immediately taken very seriously by law enforcement,” the Connecticut State Police said in a news release. “If a threat is determined to be a hoax, there will be a thorough investigation and arrests will be made. This could also lead to further consequences within the school district.”
Multiple school districts in Pennsylvania have released emails to parents and students about the possible TikTok threat, according to FOX29 News.
In addition to authorities across the country continuously looking into the possible hoax challenge, TikTok has also done an extensive investigation into the harmful TikTok challenge, which began Thursday (December 16).
“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 tweeted on Thursday (December 16).
On Friday (December 17) TikTok updated the status of their investigation.
“Update: we’ve exhaustively searched for content that promotes violence at schools today, but have still found nothing. What we find are videos discussing this rumor and warning others to stay safe,” TikTok tweeted. Following that tweet, TikTok stated that current media reports have been based on “rumors.”
“Media reports have been widespread and based on rumors rather than facts, and we are deeply concerned that the proliferation of local media reports on an alleged trend that has not been found on the platform could end up inspiring real world harm,” TikTok tweeted.