The latest trend on TikTok is a bit more strange and serious compared to the typical dance videos we generally see on the platform.
Videos showing the activities of drug cartels, mostly in Mexico, have one viral on TikTok as well as commentary on the footage. The hashtag associated with this trend is #carteltiktok and the tag has currently racked up over 22 million views so far.
my fyp is almost entirely cartel TikTok, it’s fascinating pic.twitter.com/Wk66e98rtU
— Casey Neistat (@Casey) November 22, 2020
One of the most popular videos under the hashtag consists of cartel members trying to escape the authorities while in a boat. After that video started to gain attention, other cartel members began posting anonymous clips of experiences that they have documented using their phones.
Due to TikTok algorithm, those who watch even one video under this hashtag will continue to receive recommendations for more cartel videos. This, of course, has caused millions of users to spend an absurd amount of time watching videos of cartel members participating in illegal activity.
I’ve been on cartel tiktok for about a week and it’s going great
— Ethan (@brottega_veneta) November 23, 2020
While most of the footage is outrageous, other users who are in cartels have decided to post about their luxurious lifestyles instead. Many have included videos of their expensive cars, exotic animals and jewelry. All of these items are assumed to have been purchased with the money they made through the cartel.
Footage of cartels and their activity is not something new. In fact, it has existed on Mexican social media for countless years before this trend even began on TikTok.
my fyp on tiktok hasn’t been the same since i saw that cartel boat chase
— Clee Torres (@ImLiterallyLily) November 23, 2020
Social media users have been entertained by the footage since it is now easily accessible on TikTok. After tv series such as Narcos and Ozarks have attracted an audience of millions, it did not come as a surprise that this type of content has been going viral. However, many are wondering if this trend will send a bad message to the youth by glamorizing and popularizing illegal activity.
“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,” an article from The New York Times stated.
cartel tiktok is my new favorite thing to fall asleep to
— ???? (@camellluh) November 23, 2020
Alejandra León Olvera, an anthropologist at Spain’s University of Murcia, believes that these videos are “narco-marketing.”
She revealed to The New York Times that many cartels “use these kinds of platforms for publicity, but of course it’s hedonistic publicity.”
Mexico’s Federal Police have become aware of this trend as well. Officers are even making their own TikToks in response to specific videos and the trend in general.
Tiger cubs and semiautomatic weapons. Piles of cash and armored cars. This is the world of Cartel TikTok, where drug trafficking groups in Mexico post their activities for hundreds of thousands of views. https://t.co/H3L3ckP6vh
— The New York Times (@nytimes) November 28, 2020
TikTok is working diligently to remove videos from their platform that have to do with this trend.
“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 New York Times stated.
A spokesperson from TikTok said that the platform is “committed to working with law enforcement to combat organized criminal activity.”
However, people are already beginning to screen-record these videos and post them on other social media platforms such as Twitter. It’s unclear what started or initially inspired this trend to take off.
There were nearly 35,000 murders in Mexico last year. Based on the murders registered currently for 2020, there will be more murders this year compared to 2019 in Mexico.
Currently, TikTok continues to expand and grow as one of the most popular social media platforms this year. Recently, Charli D’Amelio became the first user to reach 100 million followers on the app. This has become a way for social media influencers to make money and establish a career online. At only 16 years old, Charli D’Amelio has an estimated net worth of $8 million.
charli d’amelio gained 100 million followers in under a year and has enough money for the rest of her life at 16 and I’m 23 eating sleep for dinner
— bobby wasabi (@bobbyteriyaki) November 23, 2020
There are over 800 million active users on TikTok currently. The app is available in over 150 markets around the world and features over 39 accessible languages.