Note: This article contains references to sexual assault and rape.
Videos are circulating on TikTok, alleging that April 24 has been designated “national rape day,” when sexual assault will be allowed to happen without consequence. Despite being incredibly dismissive of actual assault survivors, it’s also a hoax that’s been around in some form for years.
Many tweets about April 24 claim “a group of 6 men on tiktok” started the trend, and that they even offered “tips” on how to assault, though that claim is dubious.
This “national day” was also alleged to be April 12 by Twitter user endercupid, though an earlier tweet about it has since disappeared. They claimed they couldn’t find the original source “anywhere.”
“Nah did some person really just make up a ‘national rape day’ out of nowhere to spread panic and get girls to DM them?” asked user ColdCriti.
While this is clearly bad info—circulating during Sexual Assault Awareness Month, no less—that didn’t stop panic and anxiety from dominating posts on TikTok. As with misinfo about sex trafficking, emotion and spreading “awareness” often outweighs critical thinking or sourcing, though some TikTokers attempted to cut through the noise.
The hashtag #april24 has more than 28 million views, and many of the top TikToks under the tag address the day as fact. This video, which has more than 1 million views, baselessly claims Democrats are behind the day.
As Know Your Meme points out, references to a “national rape day” have been circulating on Twitter and 4chan for years, and a now-deleted Urban Dictionary post from April 2019 claimed it was April 24 of that year. A TikTok from March 19 references the Urban Dictionary post, and it’s possible someone shared that submission again, which spurred this most recent surge of misinfo. A more recent submission treats the “day” more seriously.
TikTok often makes random dates go viral, as claims that a certain thing will happen on a certain day drum up anticipation and clicks. Last year it was August 27, and though there wasn’t a clear account of what was actually going to happen that day, people took it seriously. (Nothing happened.)
The same response is happening here: Videos show men boasting that they’re going to become vigilantes for a day. In one video, a man who appears to be a cop holds up a pair of handcuffs as an apparent warning to anyone planning something, but he doesn’t mention it’s a hoax. The irony here is that so many women have already experienced sexual assault, or live with an abuser, or fear for their lives every day. But a made-up “day” is getting much more attention.
If you see misinformation on TikTok regarding April 24—like calls to violence—the best thing to do is report it.
If you are a victim of sexual assault or want more information on sexual assault, contact the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).
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