Schools in at least 10 states warned parents of a TikTok trend threatening nationwide school shootings, but no credible threat has been identified.. A purported TikTok video trend warning of mass school shootings and other violence on Friday has sparked nationwide alarm as multiple districts said they were shutting down for the day.
The video threats purportedly didn’t mention any particular locations, according to statements released by numerous schools. Districts and schools across the country, including in Maryland, Connecticut, New York, Michigan, Massachusetts, Utah, Minnesota, Missouri, Texas, Virginia, and Illinois, have informed community members about the purported threats, while some local police departments have said they would increase their presence at schools on Friday.
Some schools in Connecticut, Minnesota, and Missouri closed on Friday due to the alleged threats and Houston-area school districts in Lamar and Fort Bend have told students to leave backpacks at home.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki tweeted about the widespread concerns on Friday afternoon, writing that the White House and federal law enforcement were “closely monitoring threats of violence in schools circulating on social media.”
—Jen Psaki (@PressSec) December 17, 2021
But there is little, if any, evidence to suggest that the purported trend ever existed. The Department of Homeland Security said in a statement tweeted on Friday that it has not found any information indicating a “credible” threat.
Amid the public concern, TikTok’s communications team tweeted on Friday that the platform “exhaustively searched for content that promotes violence at schools today” but found nothing, and said it was “working to remove alarmist warnings.” TikTok added in a follow-up tweet that the company was “concerned” about how the spread of “local media reports on an alleged trend” without facts “could end up inspiring real world harm.”
A TikTok spokesperson told Insider the platform continues “to aggressively search for any such content on our platform.”
Friday’s widespread panic comes after parents, schools, and police warned about a purported “slap a teacher” challenge allegedly circulating on TikTok this fall, but the trend appeared to never have existed on the platform.
Multiple school districts have questioned the legitimacy of the purported threats. Baltimore County Public Schools, which did not respond to a request for comment, tweeted on Thursday that law enforcement looked into “this threat” and found it not credible.
Brian Reagan, the superintendent of Massachusetts’ Waltham Public Schools, wrote in a Thursday statement that he had been working with local police and that they didn’t believe a purported social media threat against school safety on Friday was credible. When reached over email, Reagan declined to comment.
Florida’s Citrus County School District tweeted Thursday saying it was aware of the social media hubbub but had “not received any indication of a credible threat” and that school would continue on Friday.
Still, many school districts and local police departments have taken the purported threats seriously.
Stephen Jones, the superintendent of Little Falls Community Schools in Minnesota, wrote on the district’s website Thursday that schools across the district would be closed on Friday, along with “all home events and activities.” Jones declined to comment for this article.
Scott Eiler, the sheriff of Missouri’s Gasconade County, wrote in a Facebook statement on Thursday that the Gasconade County R-II School District would close on Friday, with increased law enforcement presence at other schools in the area.
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