What is CrimeTok?

TikTok users and creators make use of this app to share a passion for True Crime together. However, there is controversy regarding this community.


Eyesteix Studio / Unsplash

A famous social media app called TikTok continues to take over the world of youth.

Social media is like gasoline to a fire — once you use it, the fire only spreads more. With one button and a curious person behind a screen, anything can spread all over the world. Crime is a topic that many people are curious about. It is represented in many ways over the internet, such as with true-crime documentaries on Netflix or YouTube where they discuss the victims, perpetrators, and specifics of the case. These well-known cases also appear on news channels such as BBC, CNN, and Inside Edition among others. Some news channels in the past have covered perpetrators very well in an effort to inform the public. The use of news broadcasts and documentaries to display different cases help to spread the word about these crime cases. 

But, these are not the only ways people have discovered crime cases. 

TikTok, a social media app that became a top entertainment platform ever since the peak of the Coronavirus pandemic, has made information readily available and shareable. Students and workers spent their newfound free time during the pandemic joining this new app and ended up learning a few things. 

This social media app, coupled with others such as Instagram, have shared information about many global issues. These apps served as a catalyst for the innumerable youth uprising in countries around the world. People shared one hashtag, and the topic would spread like wildfire. It is no wonder that TikTok blew up and became so popular so fast. 

TikTok users also get a chance to learn about the horrors and wonders of the world that they never knew of before. One part of Tik Tok called CrimeTok covers a crowd favorite: True Crime, where content creators and viewers take on details of a crime and restructure them into a dramatic narrative like those of murder mysteries. Many CrimeTok content creators make use of the TikTok’s unique features to make short and attention-grabbing TikToks regarding various crimes. Sadia Rahman ’23 explains that she has seen “an account that designs cookies and talks about crimes, I think it’s called Cookies n Crime.” The account Rahman is referring to obtains a great amount of views on their videos; their level of reach can raise awareness about safety through exposing their viewers to dangerous situations. Krittika Chowdhury ’23 said that “I learned about different and new cases that I’ve never heard before, and it makes me realize how much happened without big media coverage.”

Rhaman also explains that she appreciates how various accounts, such as this one, use the 60 second feature and slideshow option to include pictures and important details about the cases. Others, like Chowdhury also appreciate when creators make intriguing introductions to the videos, making her more willing to watch a TikTok that is ten minutes long. 

Many content creators have managed to use a simple social media app to influence peoples’ lives. Jafnoon Khatun ’23 explains that these videos “sometimes help me keep up with information.” Rahman, Khatun, Chowdhury and many other students that use TikTok may have come across these unique videos, which goes to show how much of an influence CrimeTok may have on its users.   

CrimeTok is a side of TikTok that covers well known or even underrepresented crime cases to spread the word. (David Von Diemar / Unsplash )

One TikTok user posted a video of a lamp they found at a thrift store, only to find out there is a strange story behind it. The user simply posted a video of the lamp in their hand. They then posted follow up videos with the outer piece of the lamp off, creating many comments speculating what the weird stains on this lamp might be. The user then learned that applying hydrogen peroxide may tell you if it is blood. The user explains, “I just wanted to throw it out there that I am not a forensic pathologist, I’m going to be using hydrogen peroxide and a UV light.” The user then found out that the stains on the lamp were, in reality, blood stains after applying hydrogen peroxide to the lamp. After gaining millions of views across all of these videos, the creator posted many follow up videos to continue the unknown story of this mysterious lamp. This article from the New York Post has more information on this case. 

Not only has TikTok been a platform for creativity and conversation but also a space for representation. 

TikTok has spread recent news about the overlooked opinions of the victims of many well-known cases regarding companies making insensitive shows and documentaries about their experiences. Users and creators have managed to emphasize the voice of the victim’s families and share the news that various news outlets and streaming applications are not listening to. 

However, TikTok is still a social media app, and like many others of its kind, it generates controversy.

Various social media platforms may contain false information and often over exaggerate the details of many cases. Some creators share  distressing false information simply to cause uproar and unnecessary fear. Others share  absurdly insensitive details on TikTok simply for more views. To worsen the situation, applications such as Instagram and TikTok spread videos with false information rapidly. With one click, a video can roam all over the internet. Many users have experienced reading false information put online about various cases and now distrust most of these videos. “Although the videos are an interesting idea, I don’t really believe them all the time because TikTok is known to also share fake news all over the internet,” said Davin Dhanraj ’23. 

Many of these TikToks are also very ambiguous when addressing the details of the case. They leave out information and often make misleading claims regarding certain aspects of the case. 

Furthermore, while many of these TikTok videos emphasize some underrepresented opinions and give voice to the  people in those cases, many also forget that everyone deserves privacy. As mentioned before, one feature of TikTok is that people can comment under TikToks, allowing users to share their opinions and interact with others. However, in many instances, many users leave harmful and insensitive comments. “Certain creators seem to forget that the people involved in these crimes are real people, with lives and feelings. If creators are too blasé about crimes, especially those of a violent nature, it only feels insensitive. It’s almost as if these types of creators might only care about crimes when there’s a chance to profit off of it,” said Mahnaz Ahmed ’23. Ahmed appreciates creators that understand the limits of their videos, but finds it unsettling when other creators invade the privacy and safety of people simply for views and money. 

CrimeTok has given many people a chance to share their interest and curiosity for crime and mystery by giving them a platform to find like-minded people and the ability to make short, digestible reel-form content. Although the idea of CrimeTok is an interesting one, the community needs changes. Creators who solely post videos for views without a regard for the people’s feelings are violating the deserved privacy of many people involved in cases. It is critical for users to understand that they must acknowledge and maintain the privacy of people involved when roaming the world of CrimeTok.   

“Certain creators seem to forget that the people involved in these crimes are real people, with lives and feelings. If creators are too blasé about crimes, especially those of a violent nature, it only feels insensitive. It’s almost as if these types of creators might only care about crimes when there’s a chance to profit off of it,” said Mahnaz Ahmed ’23.