Online Trend: Reaction Videos

reaction_videos_thumbnail

Type of Resource

Guidance

Publication Date

September 22, 2023

Topic/s

Social Media and Apps / Video and Livestreaming 

Safeguarding Alert

Our online safety experts have been alerted to a potentially viral TikTok trend. The trend focuses on people recording “reaction videos” while searching for a term that brings them to a specific type of illegal, sexual online content.

From what our experts have discovered, the explicit material found in this trend is NOT hosted on TikTok.

What is a Reaction Video?

Put simply, a reaction video is a recording of a person or group of people reacting to something they are watching online or offline. This can be reacting to anything from an episode of a hit television show to highly anticipated film trailers to popular YouTube videos. Channels on YouTube such as “REACT” expanded the concept into ‘YouTuber Reacts’, ‘Kids React’, ‘Parents React’ and ‘Grandparents React’. In 2013, the concept of reaction videos was adapted into the TV Channel 4 show Gogglebox.

Why Do People Watch Reaction Videos?

The responses of those watching the videos stimulates curiosity. That curiosity combined with the fear of missing out prompts others to participate especially when the reactions they have seen are funny or shocking.
WARNING: This content is extremely explicit.

This trend involves users on TikTok filming a before and after video of themselves as they search the term “The Art of the Zoo” (or “Art of Zoo”) on Google. Without detailing what the results are, they proceed to react with a mixture of shock, horror, and disgust. This then prompts viewers to participate in the trend as well or, at the very least, enter the term into a search engine themselves.

The search engine results can bring up links, images, and videos that feature pornographic bestiality.

Bestiality, as defined by the law, refers to a person performing an act of intercourse or oral sex with an animal (whether dead or alive). This is classified as extreme pornography and is illegal throughout the UK.

It is important to note that the TikTok reaction videos reviewed by our online safety experts are not explicit in themselves. These videos simply show the reaction of the viewer rather than the content they see.

The risk from reaction videos circulated on TikTok or other platforms is that they may prompt viewers to seek out the extreme material that has engendered the “shocked” response of others.

There is no evidence at this time that children are participating in this trend in large numbers. That said, more children may be exposed to risk if the react challenge gains further traction and more children engage in the activity.

While researching, our experts found little to no evidence that this has become a viral trend. Searching the hashtags “Art of Zoo” and “the Art of the Zoo” revealed under 9,000 views combined. However, individual videos may perform at a higher viewing rate and could attract more attention. Multiple videos even showcased users searching the terms on Google and not being able to find anything considered shocking.

When we enabled Google SafeSearch, there were no explicit results found using any of these terms. Most of the search results displayed picture thumbnails of the reaction videos we found on TikTok. However, once our experts turned off Google SafeSearch and added “video” to the end of the search term, multiple graphic videos and images were presented without warning of explicit material.

IMPORTANT TAKE-AWAY: Extreme and explicit sexual content was blocked by Google SafeSearch*.

*While SafeSearch isn’t 100% accurate, it’s designed to help block explicit results from your Google search results.

The danger of this type of trend comes is that it can drive users down a “rabbit hole”. While searching for these terms do not bring immediate results, there are multiple articles found online that explain what the reaction is and why.

This may incite a child or young person to search for the other terms they come across such as “bestiality”. FOMO (fear of missing out) may also prompt them to participate in the trend.

Tell the children in your care that if they come across something scary or disturbing online that they should:

Helpful Advice & Guidance

For more information on talking to children about sensitive topics, check out our video below.

Welcome to the Online Safety Hub

How old are you?

If you are under 18, click the blue button below to visit the Online Safety Hub micro-site for children and young people.