Controversial TikTok ‘silhouette challenge’ takes disturbing turn

Ash Cant
·5-min read

TikTok users are warning others on the platform of the dangers of participating a challenge doing the rounds on the app.

The ‘silhouette challenge’, which is making the rounds on TikTok, is when people use a filter which creates a silhouette, however, other people are potentially exploiting and violating those taking part in the challenge.

Usually a mash-up of Paula Anka’s Put Your Head on my Shoulders and Doja Cat’s The Street is played over the video.

On the app TikTok, pictured, people are taking part in the silhouette challenge, which comes with a certain level of risk
People on TikTok have raised concerns about the ‘silhouette challenge’. Source: Sipa (USA)

At the start of the video, a TikTok user generally appears, wearing baggy clothes or something modest, then as the song morphs, the red filter is applied, creating the silhouette of the person.

In some cases, the person poses seductively, in tight fitting clothes, or in some cases wearing underwear or nothing at all.

Because of the filter, you’re only able to see a silhouette.

Warning over the silhouette challenge

As the challenge gained some traction, other people on the platform started issuing concerning warnings.

One of which was Kai Lee, or @lostvsnryshots, who explained she is a photographer and that it is actually pretty easy to exploit the people taking part in the challenge.

“Even though they’re all really cute and creative and you all look bomb in them, just make sure you’re being cognisant with what you’re wearing before you actually do all the editing for the final product,” Ms Lee says in the video.

“Because anyone could easily take those images and revert them back to the original.

“So if you’re wearing a bra and panties or if you’re nude, or whatever you did before you applied the editing to make that shadow look, just know that it’s really easy to just put it back to the original.”

In the comments, Ms Lee explained her main concern was people not being careful with their privacy and potentially being “exposed by people who genuinely don’t give a damn about their wellbeing and expose them in non-consensual ways.”

Manipulating videos is ‘non-consensual’

People have made YouTube videos explaining how to remove the filter used for the silhouette challenge, which is concerning considering people can follow the steps and exploit people.

Some of these videos have thousands of shares.

According to Rolling Stone, a subreddit which shared edited versions of the TikToks has been removed.

Tweets suggest there were Twitter accounts also sharing manipulated versions of the challenge and some of those accounts have been deleted.

If people are sharing these manipulated versions of the TikToks, that is image-based abuse, which is sometimes referred to as “revenge porn”.

“Image-based abuse (IBA) happens when an intimate image or video is shared without the consent of the person pictured,” Australia’s eSafety commission states.

“This includes images or videos that have been digitally altered (using Photoshop or specialised software).”

With people exposing TikTok users, mainly women, it brought about a discussion on consent on other social media platforms.

While some people tried to argue it was the person’s fault if their video was manipulated to reveal more of themselves than they ever intended to show online.

“This is very “she wouldn’t dress like that if she didn’t want it” of you. If a woman wanted her naked body on the internet, she would,” one person said on Twitter, in response to a person calling for “self accountability”.

“Women are doing the silhouette challenge b/c that’s as much of themselves as they consent to be seen. Anything further is non-consensual violence.”

“When reminded that this is gross, creepy, and non-consenting, men respond that women are always finding ways to make themselves victims and they shouldn’t have been naked on the internet,” one woman wrote on Facebook.

“Yes, the same men going through extraordinary lengths to be creepy are finger wagging women about what they shouldn’t put on the internet.”

Many people pointed out online there are several ways to view consensual explicit images online.

“Removing the filters in the #silhouettechallenge is not about seeing someone naked, it's about perverted people wanting to see someone naked WITHOUT their consent,” someone tweeted.

On a lighter note, Paul Anka, whose song features in the challenge, has been sharing some of his favourite TikTok’s - mainly ones done by dogs.

So, enjoy this one by a pug by the username @peewee.tv, which Anka claims is “the best one”, which captures the essence of the trend:

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