New York – Chinese short-video making platform TikTok is the new destination for drug cartels.
Called Cartel TikTok, various drug mafia from Mexico have flooded TikTok with videos and photos of tiger cubs and semi-automatic weapons, piles of cash and armoured cars, fields of poppies watered and the sound of ballads, glorifying Mexican drug cartel culture, reports The New York Times.
“This is the world of Cartel TikTok, a genre of videos depicting drug trafficking groups and their activities that is racking up hundreds of thousands of views on the popular social media platform,” the report said on Saturday.
“It’s narco-marketing. The cartels use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course, it is hedonistic publicity,” Alejandra Leon Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, was quoted as saying.
A high-speed boat chase video on TikTok, posted by the Mexican cartel, went viral in the US this month.
“Did the cartels just roll out their TikTok marketing strategy?” asked one user in a video viewed some 490,000 times. “Is the coronavirus affecting y’all’s sales?”
“As soon as I started liking that boat video, then there are videos of exotic pets, videos of cars,” said another TikTok user from California.
A TikTok spokeswoman was quoted as saying that the company was “committed to working with law enforcement to combat organised criminal activity” on its platform.
She said the company had removed “content and accounts that promote illegal activity”.
One video, which wooed more than 500,000 likes before it was removed, showed a farmer slicing unripe seed pods in a field of poppies.
“Such videos may be intended for a Mexican audience, but for users in the United States who help promote them, they tap into an increasingly popular fascination with the cartel world, one propagated by shows like ‘Narcos’ on Netflix,” the report said.