What the Tech: TikTok for good

What the Tech

Fair is fair. TikTok isn’t all bad.

It’s been easy to dismiss the social media network as an example of how a digital platform with a huge following can encourage violence, crime, and stupid stunts from videos that go viral.

There are also those viral dance moves many of us have found easy to despise. After this weekend, most everyone will acknowledge that some TikTok users should be applauded.

The Laurel County, Kentucky Sheriff’s Department credited TikTok and a viral video that may have saved the life of a 16-year-old girl.

On its Facebook page, the Sheriff’s Department announced it rescued a 16-year-old missing North Carolina girl who was traveling with a 61-year-old man. The girl used a distress signal toward a passing motorist who knew the signal and called the police.

The hand gesture, an open hand facing away from them, followed by tucking the thumb into the palm and then closing the hand, was introduced by the Women’s Funding Network in 2020.

The idea was to help women in abusive situations send a silent cry for help over video chats as most
people were sheltered in place during COVID.

The gesture might never have gotten much traction were it not for TikTok and its 1 billion users.

Once a video of the gesture was shared on TikTok it became viral and other daily users began creating their own videos with instructions on how to use the hand gesture.

The Laurel County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson said their officers didn’t know the hand gesture but thankfully the 16-year-old knew how to use it and the passing motorist recognized it.

Most likely from seeing the TikTok videos. The 61-year-old man, James Herbert Brick was arrested and the 16-year-old girl was rescued.

TikTok users are also helping investigators look into the tragedy at the Travis Scott concert at the Astroworld Music Festival over the weekend. Concert goers started recording videos near the area where people were getting crushed by the crowd.

Users also uploaded videos of the reaction from the stage, concert workers ignoring cries for help, and other concertgoers preventing rescue workers from getting to those hurt.

Many TikTok videos were also uploaded by witnesses describing what they saw.

Nearly every moment of the show and the tragedy was captured on smartphone video and
uploaded to TikTok.

For all of the bad that gets attention from TikTok, we can’t overlook the good. Fair is fair.

For more What the Tech stories click here.

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