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Government wants social media companies to axe ‘skull-breaker’ videos

The social media challenge, popularised first on short video app TikTok, starts with three people standing alongside each other, seemingly ready to jump into the air all at once. However, the two people on either side try to kick the legs out from under the one in the middle, making him or her fall.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: Feb 24, 2020, 08.37 AM IST
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BENGALURU: The government has asked social media platforms TikTok, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and ShareChat to take down videos of what is known as the ‘skull-breaker’ challenge, which has resulted in serious head injuries among students across the globe. The social media challenge, popularised first on short video app TikTok, starts with three people standing alongside each other, seemingly ready to jump into the air all at once. However, the two people on either side try to kick the legs out from under the one in the middle, making him or her fall.

Doctors have warned that the free fall can result in head injuries, fractures to the joints, and even break the unsuspecting person’s skull.

In an advisory last week, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) said it expects social media platforms to remove such videos and warn users to avoid such acts.

“This being a dangerous game, severely impacting and harming minors and also being a public safety issue, it is expected that social media platforms expeditiously remove videos performing or attempting the skull-breaker challenge or influencing a child for skull breaker challenge or similar content as and when it comes to your notice,” MeitY said.

It also asked social media platforms to publish an online awareness campaign to help users avoid such dangerous actions.

ET has a copy of the advisory.

The challenge originated on TikTok but quickly spread to other platforms, where users shared videos from the Chinese short video platform. The hashtag #skullbreakerchallenge received a staggering 4.8 million views on the popular platform.

The advisory pointed at Intermediary Guidelines of the Information Technology Act, which requires platforms to observe due diligence and inform its users to not host, display and update information that is harmful and objectionable, and affects minors.

TikTok told ET that it has taken down the videos as it has violated the company’s community guidelines. On Friday, it also put out a warning asking users not to participate in dangerous stunts. The warning pops up whenever a user searches for videos on the challenge.

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