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Performance Crimes: Dangerous Consequences of Social Media Trends

The popularity of social media platforms like TikTok has given rise to dangerous and illegal trends in the US. The trend of performance crimes, in particular, has been thrust into the spotlight and has been one of the latest news online due to the sharp uptick in car thefts linked to viral videos posted on social media platforms, including TikTok.

The Kia and Hyundai owners across the country have been directly affected by the trend as their cars were stolen or damaged in the past two years. The videos posted on TikTok and other social media platforms have taught people how to start cars with USB cables and exploit a security vulnerability in some models sold in the US without engine immobilizers, a standard feature on most cars since the 1990s preventing the engine from starting unless the key is present.

The car thefts have continued despite efforts by Hyundai to work with TikTok and other platforms to remove the videos. The lingering effects of such dangerous content that gain traction with teens looking for ways to go viral are becoming a major concern for police departments in a dozen cities. They have said it factors into an increase they’ve seen in juveniles arrested or charged with car thefts.

Calls for Accountability

According to the latest news online, attorneys general from 17 states have urged federal regulators to enforce a compulsory recall, asserting that the voluntary software updates provided by the companies are insufficient. Several cities, such as Baltimore, Milwaukee, and New York, have submitted or declared intentions to participate in legal proceedings against the car manufacturers, who are also confronting class-action and civil lawsuits from customers.

The National Highway and Safety Administration attributes this pattern to a minimum of 14 accidents and eight deaths. However, attorneys who are suing the car manufacturers argue that the actual figures are probably significantly higher.

Performance crimes have become a phenomenon that is not only limited to car thefts but also includes dangerous challenges like the “Orbeez Challenge,” which directed people to use toy or airsoft guns to shoot small, gel-filled balls called Orbeez at strangers or friends. Social media has not completely changed crime, but it has made it easier for trends in criminal activity to spread quickly.

Challenges of Content Moderation

Social media platforms have also been blamed for the rise of performance crimes, and many calls for accountability have been directed at the automakers. Lawyers representing victims have received thousands of inquiries from people affected by the dangerous trends.

TikTok and other social media platforms have tried to remove the content, but it is a challenge to keep up with the speed and breadth of such content. The platforms use a combination of artificial intelligence and human moderators to screen content. The human moderators act as a second level of screening when content is questionable. However, it’s easier for technology to spot certain violations, like nudity, than things like teens breaking into cars.

Experts say that social media’s role in crime is not indicative of a paradigm shift in criminal activity. Social media seems to be a radically new thing, but the only new things are the speed and the breadth. There are plenty of examples of trends in criminal activity spreading before social media existed as it does now.


Performance crimes are becoming a major concern for law enforcement agencies in the US, and social media platforms have been blamed for the rise of such crimes. Automakers have been called upon to take accountability for the issue and have faced legal action from victims. While social media has not completely changed crime, it has made it easier for trends in criminal activity to spread quickly and make the latest news online. It is crucial that social media platforms work more closely with law enforcement agencies to prevent the spread of dangerous content that puts people’s lives in danger.

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