Racist video provokes thought about how students present themselves online

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Isha Modha

Tiktok is a popular app where users can post short videos and reach a wide audience in a short amount of time. Principal Kelly King warns students about how sites like these can impact student’s futures. “Once a digital footprint is out there, it can be recovered at any time,” King said. “It’s important that students think long term because one bad decision could come back to bite you in relation to academic and career opportunities.”

On Nov. 25, a TikTok video was uploaded depicting a Hillsborough student speaking to a boy on Omegle, a website which allows strangers to speak to each other after connecting them on their common interests. The student was shown in the video calling the poster (@om4riii) ‘George Floyd’ and ‘Harriet’ in reference to Harriet Tubman. He referenced two important Black figures which contributes to the diminishment of their experience.  The video blew up on the social media site.  

The clip, posted by Tyler Layne, was only 44 seconds long. Layne said the student misgendered him and used transphobic and racist language towards him. Layne, who is both Black and Asian found this behavior appalling.  

“With the huge amount of exposure that Black Lives Matter has received this year, you would think that people would be more aware of the impact that this language has on Black people. Clearly [the student] is aware of the events that occurred in May. It’s disgusting that he could say those things,”  Layne said. 

Principal Kelly King finds the situation to be disappointing. She believes that social media culture often desensitizes people to pressing issues that should not be taken lightly. King is proud of the majority of the school population that chooses to educate their peers on sensitive issues that often target minorities but she finds that on social media, people often fail to recognize that “private” conversations run the risk of being shared to others.   

“Once a digital footprint is out there, it can be recovered at any time. It’s important that students think long term because one bad decision could come back to bite you in relation to academic and career opportunities,” she said. 

“You only get one reputation and it’s important that you make sure your public and online self are a reflection of your character.” 

The student involved did not respond to requests for comment.