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TikTok Posts Warning of National School Shootings Creates Panic Amid Heightened Security Measures

TikTok Posts Warning of National School Shootings Creates Panic Amid Heightened Security Measures

Donald Trump backs off TikTok

TikTok posts warning of violent threats at American schools circulated around the country this week as officials assured parents the viral posts were not considered credible. School officials in states including Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Montana, New York, and Pennsylvania said on Thursday there would be an increased police presence because of the threats, which went viral in the aftermath of the deadly Oxford High School shooting in Michigan, which has been followed by numerous copycat threats to schools elsewhere.

The vague, anonymous posts circulating online warned that multiple schools would receive shooting and bomb threats. Local police departments said they would increase their presence around schools “out of an abundance of caution” to give some relief to educators and administrators already under duress during pandemic conditions.

OXFORD, MI – DECEMBER 07: A board where community members can share words of support alongside the memorial outside of Oxford High School on December 7, 2021 in Oxford, Michigan.  (Photo by Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

At least a few districts announced plans to close school buildings Friday, including Gilroy high school in northern California. Gilroy police said they had found threats on social media not to be credible, but school officials said final exams scheduled for Friday, the last day before winter break, would be postponed to January out of “an abundance of caution”.

Internet companies such as TikTok are generally exempt from liability under US law for the material users post on their networks, thanks in large part to the legal “safe harbor” they are given by Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. But that doesn’t mean the platform shouldn’t take action or restrict certain content.

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Tik Tok released a statement acknowledging the threats. “We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness,” the statement said, “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.”

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