Culture

Jerks on YouTube are manipulating a TikTok filter to digitally undress women

The body-positive #SilhouetteChallenge, which started on TikTok, quickly got hijacked and is leading to abuse.

An abstract art piece depicting the front of faces in neon green and pink in a hyper-disconnected, hacked form.
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If you use TikTok or Twitter, you may have noticed a deluge of videos recently where people, especially women, post recordings of their silhouettes to celebrate their bodies to a remix of Paul Anka's Put Your Head On My Shoulder. It's called the #SilhouetteChallenge. On Tuesday, according to Rolling Stone, various channels on YouTube have published videos where they teach massive audiences how to remove the red hue from the #SilhouetteChallenge videos to view the raw post.

It's a privacy nightmare, as many participants in the trend are in various states of nudity to capture their silhouettes. In many cases, these videos come with advertisements, which means they are monetized on the network. In one case, according to Rolling Stone, a video sharing a tutorial on how to remove the red filter from the clips received over 233,000 views on YouTube. Input has asked Google for a comment on the issue and will update this report accordingly.

What will YouTube do? — In order to see how rampant the issue is, I put "how to remove" in YouTube's search field and was given these suggestions as the first and most populated queries at the moment. I gave it another run but this time I did it through my anonymous account to see if the issue existed over there as well.

In both cases, YouTube gives results such as "how to remove red light in silhouette challenge," "how to remove silhouette filter" alongside commonplace searches like "how to remove acrylic nails at home," "how to remove blackheads at home," "how to remove wallpaper," etc.

Mehreen Kasana / Input Mag / YouTube

At this moment, it is unclear if YouTube has started clearing out these videos and demonetizing them. It would have full reason to do so as these tutorials seem to violate the network's community guidelines on unwanted sexualization and harassment. It's a problem that has sparked TikTok users to warn participants that their clips can be reverted and exposed to huge crowds. If the problem persists, some legal experts have gone as far as to say that participants can turn to legal recourse for the forceful publication of their private information.

UPDATE (02/04): A Google spokesperson has since told Rolling Stone that, "TikTok videos that contain nudity can not be re-uploaded to YouTube, as they violate our adult content policies. Additionally, we will remove content uploaded to YouTube that has been altered to reveal participant’s bodies in a way that was not intended by the original uploader."