WARNING – DISTRESSING CONTENT: A viral TikTok video filmed inside a hotel room is raising questions over how far users are willing to go in order to rack up likes on the platform.
The video uploaded by user Gregers Federspiel, which has over three million likes and 26 million views since it was uploaded earlier this month, shows bedding and pillows being used to replicate two bodies inside a hotel room.
Sheets are then placed over them, and the cord from the room's phone and a separate cord is then wrapped around the necks before turning the lights off and presumably checking out of the room.
The video has since triggered a wave of comments suggesting the prank is "too far" and could cause distress to hotel staff cleaning rooms.
"So some poor worker facing a huge shift, with so many rooms to do, probably on minimum wage will be caused stress and more work with this," one person wrote.
Several users said they worked in hotels and pleaded for people not to replicate the stunt.
"We have seven minutes to clean a room. This room is possibly going to take more than an hour, as we might have to call authorities," one person said.
"Please don’t! I’m working at a hotel at the moment, also housekeeping on some days and I swear we’ve got enough to do, and enough other problems," another explained.
"As a hotel cleaner I would be terrified," one user wrote.
But alarmingly, many comments indicated other users were desperate to replicate the prank.
And it seems the prank has been circulating on the video-sharing platform for some time, with several similar videos garnering tens of thousands of likes in the past 12 months.
TikTok content can have significant impacts on mental health
There is concern not only for the people who are on the receiving end of these stunts but also for the millions who are watching on social media, Dr Marilyn Bromberg, a senior lecturer in Social Media and the Law at the University of Western Australia, said.
"There's an incredible amount of disturbing content on TikTok and social media and that's why we in particular need to be careful with children and their social media use and them being exposed to this sort of content," she told Yahoo News Australia.
Dr Bromberg said TikTok was well known for pranks, stunts and jokes – a dangerous combination due to the demographic of users.
"There's a huge amount of copycats and there's a huge amount of crime and habits on social media that inspires others to commit crime, it's quite a problem particularly because of how quickly it can get content on social media," she said.
"This is a very good reminder for people to be careful about what their children see on social media, but also to remember the impacts of social media can have on mental health."
Dr Bromberg said there had been cases where social media companies faced law suits after content had effected users "emotionally and psychologically".
She said there can often be jurisdictional issues when it comes to problematic content being viewed in Australia that may have legal repercussions, as it often emerges from overseas.
Monitoring content 'challenging' for TikTok
And in-house monitoring of content comes with its challenges too.
"With social media and TikTok there are people who are employed who are responsible for the type of content that's on there and you can make complaints, but it can take a while for the complaints to be addressed," Dr Bromberg said.
And it can be extremely "challenging and expensive", Director of QUT's Digital Media Research Centre Patrick Wikstrom told Yahoo.
"TikTok is no doubt investing heavily in content moderation, but how do you determine what is "enough"?"
Yahoo has contacted TikTok for comment regarding the video and similar content within the trend.
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