EXCLUSIVE Experts in gang culture have accused Chinese social media giant TikTok – which has four million young users in Britain – of helping stoke up tensions and luring in youngsters
TikTok has been accused of helping to glorify gang violence (Image: Getty)
Social media app TikTok is being used to fuel gang violence with sick video-game style scorecards of murders and stabbings between rivals.
Online videos boast of horrific knifings and shootings carried out by gang members in the drill music scene – a violent sub-genre of rap.
Experts in gang culture accuse the Chinese social media giant – which has four million young users in Britain – of helping stoke up tensions and luring in youngsters with the bloody scorecards.
Thuggish lyrics in slick drill-rap videos have been linked to an explosion of murders across the UK’s inner cities.
But the artists are still promoted by the likes of former Radio 1 DJ Tim Westwood, who hosts drill-rap videos on his YouTube channel.
TikTok has now been accused of fuelling gang turf wars with the “online CVs” of violence.
Profiles of drill rappers have appeared apparently listing attacks carried out by some of the genre’s biggest stars.
They allege assaults on police, as well as stabbings and shootings that left rival gang members paralysed.
Several claim that a gang member had killed an “opp” – slang for opponent – but his victim was revived.
MPs and anti-gang campaigners called for an end to social media sites hosting the league tables of violence.
Dr Simon Harding, of the National Centre for Gang Research at University of West London, said: “Previously to be part of a gang you it used to be that you would have to actually live on an estate and associate with a group of gang members.
“Now, with social media, you can hook up with a gang, be recruited by a gang, be groomed by a gang, all virtually without ever living anywhere near the same estate.”
Jen Lock, founder of Lives Instead of Knives England, said: “These platforms are glamorising and glorifying brutal crimes. They’re encouraging attacks on rival gangs and stoking up tensions.
“TikTok caters for a younger audience and it means they are easily exposed to it.”
An Ofcom survey found half of British children aged eight to 15 were regularly using the TikTok app despite it having an official minimum user age of 13.
TikTok posts seen by the Sunday People are called an OJ Profile or On Job profile – used to describe a successful or active gang member.
The profiles are posted on a TikTok account which has more than 16,500 likes and 1,500 followers.
Each one lists a series of stabbings, murders and other violent acts allegedly carried out by the gang member. The 21 videos have been viewed nearly 225,000 times.
It is unclear if they were created by the gang member themselves or the person who held the account.
Among them is a profile for rapper CB – real name Lekan Akinsoji – who is currently serving a 23-year prison sentence for donning a clown mask and brandishing a sawn-off shotgun at police during a car chase.
Last year Akinsoji, 20, and three others appeared in drill videos bragging about killing rivals in East London. Other profiles tell of the activities of the NGang based in Northolt, North West London.
One of their members, Abdullahi Tarabi, 19, was stabbed to death in front of horrified families after being chased through a west London estate.
The rival 1011 gang recorded a rap video with DJ Westwood in which they appear to boast that Abdullahi “got splashed and died, and I don’t feel sorry for his mum”.
Westwood says he does not condone violence or promote violent music.
Grieving mum Sharon Kendall, 39, issued a desperate plea to social media giants, begging: “Stop fuelling this bloodshed.”
Sharon’s son Jason Isaacs, 18, was knifed to death by drill rapper Joel Amade, 19, who boasted about his violent lifestyle in raps online before he was jailed last year for 20 years.
Although Amade did not use TikTok, they are among social media companies criticised by Sharon for allowing violent criminals to goad rivals online.
Speaking to the Knives Down Gloves Up campaign – which promotes boxing and martial arts as a way out of crime – Sharon said: “What does it take for them to take notice?
“How is it OK that mums have to see videos online gloating about their children being murdered? My son’s killer is in prison and he’s still getting views for raps that he’s posted online.
“More must be done by social media to stop the sharing of violent videos.”
And in sharp contrast to criticism of the London Met police, the mum-of-four added: “Stop and search powers need to be increased.”
Former undercover cop Neil Woods said gangsters were using social media to build reputation and intimidate.
Neil, of Law Enforce-ment Action Partnership UK, said: “The most successful gangsters are the ones who have the best ability to intimidate.”
The posts on TikTok suggest it has started to rival YouTube as a prime outlet for gangs.
Shadow Home Secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said the continued failure of social media companies to police themselves highlights why it is important for the Government to introduce the long-awaited Online Harms Bill.
Lib Dems spokeswoman Daisy Cooper said: “Videos that glorify violence are clearly unacceptable.”
A TikTok spokeswoman said: “Keeping people safe on TikTok is a top priority.
“In line with our community guidelines, we take swift action to remove dangerous or abusive content and the account in question has been permanently banned from our platform.”
Terrifying new dimension to gang violence, writes Dr Simon Harding of The National Centre for Gang Research
This is a new, terrifying dimension of gang violence being played out on a new platform.
These boys are not strangers to “bigging up” their reputation. That’s very much what they do on social media platforms.
But I have never before seen what appears to amount to an online CV of violence.
Normally there are one or two guys in their bedrooms with guns and drugs laid out on the bed, or they are grouped-up giving a drill performance.
But I’ve never before seen a formative profile or CV in this way, which is very alarming.
Part of the drill genre is to provoke and they can lead to revenge attacks quite specifically – people can find quite swift and very violent retribution.
Tik Tok seems to be a new platform for these people but they are using the same violent words and languages.
If some of these things are genuine – and you have to be careful because there is an awful lot of bragging – it raises serious concerns.
It also seems like a stupid thing to do because bragging about these crimes could make them a target for revenge attacks.
The whole gang domain has largely switched online