TikTok investigates reports of posts encouraging sexual assault

Reporter: Anika Henanger Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
FILE – This Feb. 25, 2020, file photo, shows the icon for TikTok in New York. (AP Photo/File)

TikTok says, if it finds any content promoting a heinous crime, it will immediately remove it. The social media service shared this in response to reports of a group of men encouraging rape on its platform, but so far, TikTok says it has not found these possible posts.

Some people reacting to the reports claim this encouragement has to do with Saturday being “National Rape Day,” and a woman in Cape Coral said she received a threatening text message about it, which she reported to police.

“What I saw was the impact, and in the end, the repercussions of what these people were saying that April 24 is ‘National Rape Day,” said Eileen Wesley, the executive director of Project Help Naples.

A controversial post was seen on TikTok.

“It just makes it look like there’s one more thing for us to be afraid of,” Wesley said. “That somebody could jump out of the bushes. Somebody could jump out from behind the car.”

The post created real fear in Cape Coral.

“We had somebody that got a text that said, ‘National Sexual Assault Day,’ watch your back,’” explained Master Cpl. Phil Mullen with Cape Coral Police Department.

Countless people have seen and heard of this, among them were victims and survivors of sexual assault.

“It is retriggering, and it is kind of a read victimization because the memories flood into you,” Wesley said.

Outrage toward news of this post caused people to fight against it on social media themselves.

“Thankfully, there’s a lot of backlash against that,” Mullen said. “People are generally good and took to the internet also to fight against that.”

People posted videos to support victims and call out anyone who might promote sexual assault.

“There’s men out there that really get it, and they really want to support us,” Wesley said. “I think that it made my heart full to see the male response to this in the positive way.”

It’s important to know, Project Help Naples told us some of those videos meant to be supportive can also be hard to watch, even harmful for someone, especially survivors.

Wesley wants people to know, if you need support, the organization’s crisis line is free 24/7. Call Project Help Naples at 239-262-7227.

Copyright ©2023 Fort Myers Broadcasting. All rights reserved.

This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without prior written consent.