What are online challenges?
Online challenges or dares typically involve people recording themselves doing something difficult, which they share online to encourage others to repeat. The majority are fun and safe, but some promote harmful behaviors including the risk of serious injury. Our Community Guidelines prohibit dangerous challenges.
When we receive reports about a dangerous or harmful challenge circulating online, we investigate. Sometimes, we don’t find evidence of a trend – even when warnings are being widely shared and reported on other platforms or in the media.
Some challenges are hoaxes. A hoax is a lie intentionally planted to trick people into believing something that isn’t true. The purpose of a malicious hoax is to spread fear and panic. Hoaxes relating to sexual assault or suicide and self-harm challenges are particularly harmful. If you are worried that someone may be at risk of self-harm or suicide, take a look at the resources on suicide and self-harm listed here. If you have been affected by sexual assault, you can find expert sources of support on our dedicated page.
What do I do if I see an online challenge?
STOP: Pause a moment.
THINK: Is it safe? Is it harmful? Is it real? If you’re unsure, check with an adult or friends, or look for more information from authoritative sources online.
DECIDE: If it’s risky or harmful, or you’re not sure if it is, don’t do it. It’s not worth putting yourself or others at risk.
ACT: Report harmful challenges or hoaxes in-app. Don’t share them.
Take a moment
Assessing online challenges and viral warnings can be difficult. If you see a video, pause for a moment to think about what you’ve seen, how it made you feel and how you want to respond. Ask yourself these questions:
Is it safe?
When thinking about whether a challenge is safe for you or others, ask yourself:
- What could have gone wrong?
- Does the person doing the challenge have specialist skills or training?
- Does it look like they did anything to minimise risk?
- If so, was it enough to ensure no one got hurt or did they just get lucky?
- Are the things they did to minimise risk available to you?
- If you tried the challenge, how confident are you that you or others wouldn’t get hurt?
- If you or someone else got seriously hurt, how would that affect your life?
- How would it affect your family and friends’ lives?
Some risks are obvious but others are more complicated and less easy to spot. If you’re not sure, you can search online for information from trusted sources or check with friends. If you’re a teen, ask an adult you trust. Most adults in your life have an instinct to protect you and want to be helpful, so they’re a great source of support and advice. They can help you understand what you’ve seen, and work out if the challenge is a safe thing to do.
If you decide the challenge is too risky, or you’re not sure, don’t do it.
Is it kind and respectful?
Some online challenges may not carry a risk of injury but may cause harm in other ways. Ask yourself:
- If the challenge involves ‘pranking’ someone, how will it make that person feel?
- Is it respectful of others’ personal boundaries and rights?
- Could doing the challenges result in damage to property?
- What consequences might you face if you do the challenge?
Challenges or dares that cause embarrassment or distress aren’t funny. Harassment or abuse, damage to property and criminal behaviours are always unacceptable.
Is it real?
If you see a challenge or viral warning, be alert to the possibility that it may be a hoax or a rumour that has gained momentum. Ask yourself:
- Is the challenge or dare something people are actually doing or is it a joke?
- If it’s a viral warning, does it come from a credible source?
- Does it seem like the person sharing the content has first-hand knowledge or are they just repeating something they’ve heard elsewhere?
- Is the report measured and calm or does it include dramatic or exciting language?
- Is the warning similar to ones you’ve received before?
Is it something I want to spread?
The great thing about online communities is everyone involved plays a role in deciding whether content falls flat or goes viral. Liking, sharing and leaving positive comments are all ways to show your support for a video. Does the video deserve your support?
TikTok does not reward creators who post harmful content. If a challenge is harmful, don’t share it or like it. If a challenge gains traction, others are more likely to see it and be tempted to do it. Even though it may seem helpful, creating videos to warn others about harmful challenges often increase the popularity of something you don’t want people to see or unintentionally provide details about how to do something that is dangerous.
If you see a warning about a challenge, don’t pass it on. Sharing warnings increases the number of people who are exposed to a harmful challenge or hoax. In the case of hoaxes, it also makes them seem more credible.
Should I report it?
Yes. We remove content that features dangerous, harmful or criminal behaviours. We will also remove videos that discuss dangerous challenges if they contain unfounded warnings which seek to spread fear and panic, or include instructions or depictions of harmful behaviour. If you’re not sure whether a video is potentially harmful, report it to us and we’ll take a look. If you believe someone is in immediate harm, you should contact law enforcement.
For parents, guardians and educators
From doctors to news anchors, from entrepreneurs to athletes, anyone can join in an online challenge. But because adolescence is a phase of heightened exploration and experimentation, online challenges can be particularly appealing. At the same time, teens don’t always have the same skills to weigh risk and opportunity. This means they may need more information and guidance deciding which challenges are safe and which are likely not.
Although it may seem daunting, having conversations with teens about online challenges is really important. Most teens have seen online challenges and many have taken part, so telling them all challenges are dangerous won’t ring true. Instead, let them know you get they may be curious about online challenges and you’re open to talking, listening and learning with them.
As you talk about challenges they may have seen or heard about, help them to spot potential risks, to consider consequences (including the possibility that they or others could get hurt) and to make safe choices. The four-step process above (stop, think, decide, act) is a simple way to get teens to think about risk. When you have concerns that a challenge is unsafe, tell teens this and offer clear reasons why.
Challenges are popular because they offer some positive opportunities, for example doing something with friends, testing physical limits, making others laugh or being creative. If your teen asks about a particular challenge, chat with them about why the challenge appealed and explore other ways to meet their interest or need.