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August 24, 2020 1:18 pm

TikTok Users Posting Videos Pretending to Be Holocaust Victims Called ‘Disgusting Trend’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

The “Hall of Names” commemorating victims of the Holocaust at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Photo: David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons.

In a controversial new social media trend, users of the hugely-popular app TikTok are posting videos in which they pretend to be Holocaust victims.

According to Wired, the users make videos of themselves with fake injuries or the appearance of suffering the effects of starvation, and then talk about being murdered in the Holocaust, claiming that they are now in heaven.

The videos have garnered thousands of views and some have more than 100,000 likes.

While the videos do not appear to be comedic, they are often accompanied by the song “Locked Out of Heaven” by Bruno Mars.

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The trend has come in for heavy criticism, with Wired quoted a 19-year-old Jew named Briana, whose family lost members in the Holocaust, saying, “Most creators are doing [these videos] to hop onto a trend so they can get likes and exposure [but they are] ill-informed and woefully ignorant.”

“These kinds of trends are so normalized these days, there’s also a level of shock value content which I think is outdated and in bad taste,” she added. “This shock value further desensitizes viewers to this type of behavior and normalizes this type of harmful content.”

“People need to be properly taught about the Holocaust, not make it into a disgusting trend,” Briana declared. “Our obsession with trauma porn has only motivated a desire to dramatize these narratives. … It can be very triggering for people who have family that either survived or was lost in the war.”

Briana blamed the trend on TikTok itself, which has been criticized recently for allegedly allowing hate speech and other offensive content on its platform.

“TikTok needs to instill better report evaluation teams and change what is allowed to be uploaded in terms of misinformation and hateful or ignorant content,” she said.

Some users who have made such videos, however, say that their purpose is education.

15-year-old McKayla said, “I’m very motivated and captivated by the Holocaust and the history of World War II. I have ancestors who were in concentration camps, and have actually met a few survivors from Auschwitz camp.”

“I wanted to spread awareness and share out to everyone the reality behind the camps by sharing my Jewish grandmother’s story,” she stated.

Taylor Hillman, who is also Jewish and posted her own such video, was more ambivalent, saying, “There are many young creators who range from about 12 to 16 that use the Holocaust trope for fame. They know it will get views and make them more popular, but most of the time they are not Jewish and it feels as though they are mocking the actual victims of the Holocaust.”

“I feel that it’s important that if someone is going make a POV about Jewish related topics or the Holocaust, it should be done by a Jewish person,” she continued.

“I personally had family members that were put into concentration camps so the topic was close to my heart,” Hillman said. “I tried to make my TikTok in a way that would not offend others in the Jewish community by not romanticizing it.”

Hillman said the comments on her video had not been hateful, and some commenters had said it “made them emotional.”

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