TikTok users are pretending to be Holocaust victims in disturbing footage as part of new trend dubbed ‘trauma porn’.
Footage shows people wearing the Star of David, striped clothing and make up to look like bruises and cuts and talking to the camera as if they are dead. In others the user’s background is the Auschwitz concentration camp where more than a million people died.
Those behind the videos have defended their actions, saying the clips are to ‘educate people’. But the director of survivor affairs at the US Holocaust Museum Diane Saltzman told Insider: ‘Imitating Holocaust experiences dishonors the memory of the victims, is offensive to survivors and trivializes the history.’
The clips have also sparked anger online, with one Twitter user writing: ‘Right. Now can we please STOP making Holocaust trends on tiktok? It’s straight up antisemitism and you all let it slide.’
Twitter user @PhoebeGeez wrote ‘I’ve just spent LITERAL MINUTES scrolling through a thread of videos shared on Twitter of teens on tiktok “acting” as if they were in concentration camps.’
A 17-year-old Jewish teenager from LA, named as Briana, said: ‘Our obsession with trauma porn has only motivated a desire to dramatize these narratives.’
TikTok users film point-of-view videos (POVS) for a number of different issues as well as the Holocaust.
The social media giant has not commented on the clips, some of which have thousands of views and likes.
One unnamed creator has since removed her video. She said: ‘I’ve always been interested in the history of the Holocaust and just wanted to make a creative video informing people about it on TikTok. It was never intended to be offensive.’
Another said: ‘I’m very motivated and captivated by the Holocaust and the history of World War II. I have ancestors who were in concentration camps, and have actually met a few survivors from Auschwitz camp.
‘I wanted to spread awareness and share out to everyone the reality behind the camps by sharing my Jewish grandmother’s story.’
TikTok last week removed more than 380,000 videos in the United States for violating its hate speech policy so far this year, the short-form video app said on Thursday.
The app, owned by China’s ByteDance, also said it banned more than 1,300 accounts for posting hateful content.
TikTok said in a blog post that it had acted on content such as race-based harassment and that it also had a zero-tolerance policy on organized hate groups and on content that denied ‘violent tragedies’ like the Holocaust or slavery.
The app, which is hugely popular among teenagers, is best known for dance and lip-syncing routines and viral challenges, but a review by the Anti-Defamation League earlier this month said that the platform was being used to spread white supremacist and anti-Semitic hate speech.
TikTok said on Saturday it plans to file a lawsuit on Monday against President Donald Trump’s executive order prohibiting transactions with the popular short video app and its Chinese parent ByteDance.
The company said it had tried to engage with the U.S administration for nearly a year, but faced ‘a lack of due process’ and that the government paid no attention to the facts.
‘To ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and users are treated fairly, we have no choice but to challenge the executive order through the judicial system,’ the company said in a statement.
TikTok’s owner ByteDance issued a separate statement on Sunday saying it will officially file a lawsuit against Trump administration on Monday, Aug 24.
Trump issued an executive order on August 14 that gave ByteDance 90 days to divest the U.S. operations of TikTok. ByteDance has been making progress in talks with potential acquirers, including Microsoft and Oracle. Some of ByteDance’s U.S. investors could also join the winning bid.
While TikTok is best known for its anodyne videos of people dancing and going viral among teenagers, U.S. officials have expressed concerns that information on users could be passed on to China’s government.
A representative for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.