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FBI investigating TikTok school shooting threat

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FBI investigating TikTok school shooting threat


A vigil in Oxford, Michigan to honor the four students killed in a shooting at Oxford High School on November 30, 2021 – Copyright AFP/File ALI BURAFI

The FBI said that it was investigating a school shooting threat on the popular social media platform TikTok as schools across the country sent alerts to parents Friday.

School districts and law enforcement downplayed the credibility of the “school shooting challenge” video which circulated on TikTok claiming there would be multiple school gun attacks and bombings around the country on Friday.

But many sent out notices to parents, as the threat came less than three weeks after the latest mass shooting in a US high school left four students dead in Oxford, Michigan. 

“There is information circulating that today may be a day of attacks on schools. Administration and DC Police are very aware of this and on close watch,” a message sent to parents by a school in Takoma Park in Washington said.

The Pennsbury School District in Pennsylvania told parents that there would be an increased police presence around school buildings even though they “do not believe the threat to be credible.”  

TikTok said it was investigating, even as it appeared to distance itself from the video that appeared on its platform.

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“We handle even rumored threats with utmost seriousness, which is why we’re working with law enforcement to look into warnings about potential violence at schools,” the company said in a statement.

“Even though we have not found evidence of such threats originating or spreading via TikTok,” it added. 

The Federal Bureau of Investigation said it was examining the threat.

“The FBI takes all potential threats seriously. We regularly work with our law enforcement partners to determine the credibility of any threats,” it said in a statement.

TikTok, one of the most popular social media services with school-aged children, has already come under fire for allowing the posting of short videos challenging people to risky, damaging and illegal acts.

Earlier this year the viral “Devious Licks” challenge video encouraged students to vandalize bathrooms at schools and make copycat TikTok videos of it.

That led to numerous cases of mostly very minor destruction of school property around the country.

At the time TikTok said it was taking action to remove videos and minimize their spread “to discourage such behavior.”

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The Everytown for Gun Safety group has tallied at least 149 school shootings so far this year, with 32 deaths and 94 injuries.

Sandy Hook Promise, a group formed in response to the 2012 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, condemned the TikTok video.

“A national TikTok challenge promotes school shootings on December 17. Gun violence is not a subject for jokes or pranks. All threats need to be taken seriously,” they said in a statement.



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Meta Launches New Reels Features, Including Stories to Reels Conversion and Improved Analytics

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Meta Launches New Reels Features, Including Stories to Reels Conversion and Improved Analytics

As it works to latch onto the short-form video trend, and negate the rising influence of TikTok, Meta has announced some new updates for Reels, across both Facebook and Instagram, including additional Reels insights, the expansion of the ‘Add Yours’ sticker, and ‘auto-created’ Reels clips. Yes, automatically created Reels videos.

Here’s how the new additions work.

The main addition is the expansion of the ‘Add Yours’ sticker from Stories to Reels, providing another way to prompt engagement from other users via Reels clips.

As you can see in these example images, you’ll now be able to post ‘Add Yours’ questions via Reels clips, while you’ll also be able to view all the various video responses to any prompt in each app.

It could be another way to spark engagement, and lean into the more interactive ethos of the short form video trend. Part of the appeal of TikTok is that it invites people in, with the participatory nature of the app essentially expanding meme engagement, by making it more accessible for users to add their own take.

Meta will be hoping that the ‘Add Yours’ sticker helps to facilitate the same, prompting more engagement with Reels clips.

Next up is auto-created Facebook Reels, which, as it sounds, will enable users to automatically convert their archived Stories into Reels clips.

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Reels updates

As you can see here, you’ll soon see a new ‘Create from Your Story Archive’ prompt in the Reels creation flow, which will then enable you to convert your Stories into Reels clips.

So it’s not exactly wholly automated Reels creation, as it’s just flipping your Stories clips into Reels as well. But it could provide another, simple way for users and brands to create Stories content, utilizing the video assets that they already have to link into the trend.

Worth noting that Meta also recently added a tool to convert your video assets into Reels within Creator Studio.

Meta’s also expanding access to its ‘Stars’ creator donations to Facebook Reels, which is now being opened up to all eligible creators.

Stars donations in Reels

Meta initially announced the coming expansion of Stars to Reels back in June, which will provide another critical monetization pathway for Reels creators. Short form video is not as directly monetizable as longer clips, where you can insert pre and mid-roll adds, so add-on elements like this are key to keeping creators posting, and fueling an ecosystem for such in its apps.

Stars on Reels will be available all creators that have maintained at least 1,000 followers over the last 60 days.

Meta’s also adding new Reels performance insights to Creator Studio, including Reach, Minutes Viewed, and Average Watch Time.

Reels updates

That’ll provide more perspective on what’s working, and what’s not, to help optimize your Reels approach – which could be especially valuable in the coming holiday push.

Lastly, Meta’s also expanding some Reels features that were previously only available in Instagram to Facebook as well.

Crossposting from Instagram to Facebook is now available to all Instagram users, while Meta’s also expanding its Remix option to Facebook Reels also.

Reels updates

As noted, Reels has become a key focus for Meta, as the short-form video trend continues to gain traction, and TikTok continues to rise as a potential competitor. By replicating TikTok’s main elements, Meta’s working to negate its key differentiation, which could ensure that more of its users don’t bother downloading a new app, and just stick with its platforms instead.’

Which, whether you agree with that approach or not, has proven effective. Reels content now makes up more than 20% of the time that people spend on Instagram, while video content, overall, makes up 50% of the time that people spend on Facebook.

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Meta additionally notes that it’s seen a more than 30% increase in engagement time with Reels across both Facebook and Instagram.

Meta doesn’t need to ‘beat’ TikTok as such (as much as it would like to), but it does need to dilute its significance if it can, and make it less appealing for users to have to start yet another new account, and re-build their friends list.

That’s why it’ll continue to replicate TikTok at every turn, because millions of people are currently not going to TikTok because of the presence of Reels in its apps.  

You can learn more about Meta’s new Reels updates here.

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