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Tong, Blumenthal call out TikTok for 'lack of policing' their platform

The summit comes after viral challenges on the app encourages students to cause damage to their school or engage in violent acts.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this Monday, Sept. 28, 2020 filer, a logo of a smartphone app TikTok is seen on a user post on a smartphone screen, in Tokyo. TikTok is facing two EU data privacy investigations, one into its handling of children's personal data and another over its data transfers to China. Ireland's data privacy watchdog, which is TikTok's lead regulator in the European Union, said Tuesday that it has started two inquiries to examine whether the popular short video app has breached stringent EU data privacy regulations. (AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato, File)

NEW BRITAIN, Conn. — Connecticut leaders, students, and school staff have strong words for the social media app TikTok. 

Attorney General William Tong and Senator Richard Blumenthal led a discussion Thursday morning with educators and students to call out TikTok for their lack of policing of their platform. 

The summit comes after viral challenges on the app encourages students to cause damage to their school or engage in violent acts.

The discussion took place in New Britain where three weeks ago, school officials abruptly called for remote learning days following the violence and vandalism. 

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Students, parents, and even Mayor Erin Stewart criticized the move, saying it's unfair for students who are not engaging in that behavior.

School officials attributed the violence and vandalism, which included damaged bathrooms and fighting on and off-campus, to the viral TikTok challenge "Devious Licks." 

RELATED: Social media challenge asks users to quit social media for 25 days to earn $2,500

A spokesperson for the district said they are working with the students who fell victim to the destruction. They have a system in place to provide support to the families. The district also said they are working with a group of high school students who will face disciplinary actions including expulsion and are working closely with a mentor.

Another TikTok challenge rumor surfaced in early October which allegedly encouraged students to hit school staff members, according to reports. 

"We're very alarmed by what we're perceiving as the next phase of the TikTok challenge," said New Britain High School Damon Pearce during a meeting at the beginning of the month. "The associate principal sent out a message to their cohorts today that students caught engaging in that children caught engaging in that particular challenge or others will face disciplinary consequences including out of school suspension and up to expulsion if the situation warrants."

Tong had sent a letter on Oct. 4 to TikTok’s CEO, saying there was concern that the challenge, known as “Slap a Teacher,” could put educators at risk.

TikTok issued a statement earlier this month saying that the so-called "slap a teacher" challenge was just a rumor that was spread on Facebook and was not happening on the social media platform.

"The rumored 'slap a teacher' dare is an insult to educators everywhere. And while this is not a trend on TikTok, if at any point it shows up, content will be removed," the company said on Twitter.

RELATED: 'It's kind of frustrating' | New Britain HS students return to classes after school told they can't go remote

Jennifer Glatz is a digital content producer at FOX61 News. She can be reached at jglatz@fox61.com.


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