How do tiktokeurs manage to talk about suicide by circumventing moderation?

How do tiktokeurs manage to talk about suicide by circumventing

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    Suicide is often considered a taboo subject on social media. Applications, such as TikTok, also apply significant moderation, sometimes censoring certain words. But users redouble their inventiveness to discuss their suicidal thoughts despite everything thanks to seemingly innocent expressions.

    If you search for the word “suicide” on TikTok, you’re going to run into moderation on the platform. Instead of discovering videos on the subject, the following message appears: “You are not alone. If you or someone you know is going through a difficult time, help is always available”. A tab “See resources” is then proposed, and opens on a page bringing together useful numbers such as those of “SOS Amitié”, “Suicide Ecoute”, “SOS Suicide Phénix” and 3114.

    “growing up watching sunsets”: an expression to talk about suicide

    To avoid this moderation and address these topics on the platform, users have found an original way. And this goes through seemingly innocent expressions, and containing no taboo words. It is in English that this trend has developed strongly. One of them is none other than “growing up watching sunsets” or literally “growing up watching sunsets”.

    An expression most often used by young mothers, suffering from postpartum, suffering from depression, or quite simply tired by this first maternal experience, but not wishing to give up for fear of letting their children “grow up watching the bedtimes of Sun”. In this context, “to watch sunsets” then means “to regret a deceased person”.

    TikTok, a platform that lets young mothers talk about postpartum depression

    Many users have used this expression to talk openly about their difficulties on the application without fear of having their content deleted. And it works. This kind of video can achieve millions of views. Proof of this is with the video of user @laceyyyyg on which she wrote “god i’m so tired, but I don’t want her growing up watching sunsets”, or “My God, I’m so tired, but I don’t want her growing up watching sunsets,” no doubt referring to suicide. Her video has amassed 29.9 million views and over 5.3 million likes. According to the “know your meme” site, the TikTok video of @laceyyyg launched this new trend on February 21, 2023. Since then, other users have reproduced this kind of content to talk about suicide and postpartum depression of young mothers.

    “Watching sunsets” isn’t the only expression TikTok users have used to call for help. The latter also took up the poem “Don’t Kill Yourself Today” by Hannah Dains, listing the different reasons not to commit suicide. Some of the verses have gone viral on TikTok, including “so don’t kill yourself until you finish your shampoo and conditioner at the same time” “), as well as “Don’t kill yourself until you tell someone your best pasta recipe”.

    A way to free speech

    On TikTok, this content has multiplied, creating a real trend on the application. The use of these hijacked expressions has had a positive impact and has allowed many users to share their mental health issues on social media. But by becoming a trend, these contents can also contribute to the romanticization and trivialization of suicide and depression. Thanks to the success of the trend, users who accumulate millions of views can also profit from their misfortunes, thus making the trend even more disturbing.

    This isn’t the first time users have circumvented moderation on the platform using expressions thanks to Algospeak.