'Zombie' misinformation: 'Rape day' hoax strikes again on TikTok

‘Zombie’ misinformation: ‘Rape day’ hoax strikes again on TikTok

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The exact origins of this hoax in April – celebrated as Sexual Assault Awareness Month – are unclear.

According to Media Matters, the earliest mention was a 2021 tweet that warned people in the UK that “boys have made ‘National Rape Day'” and urged them to carry deterrents such as pepper spray for protection .

This message spread rapidly on Tiktok and is going viral.

“It’s common for misinformation to start in one platform and jump to others, losing context and making it so difficult to find the original source of information,” Duclos said.

“At that point you’re essentially playing a game of telephone.”

Stopping the wildfire hoax, Duclos said, is down to users “doing due diligence before re-sharing misinformation” — which in this case was a simple keyword like “National Rape Day”. May’s search leads to multiple fact-checks from trusted outlets.

Sundar said, “The fact that this lie has surfaced again… shows what psychologists call the ‘sleeper effect’.”

“The result is that users and platforms must realize that debunking is not as long-lasting as real information, underscoring the need to reinforce the debunking message every so often.”

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