A new filter on TikTok is being used in a sinister way by parents.
Some mums and dads are setting their camera up to show an unsettling figure of a ghost floating over their children’s shoulders while the parent leaves them alone, trapped in a room, as a creepy laugh ensues.
Looking up the #Ghostfilter hashtag on the app allows viewers to watch the pranks of parents in action, which leaves some children screaming in response.
Despite not causing physical harm to the minors involved, the detrimental effects to the mental wellbeing of children are up for debate.
This concern for children’s safety has escalated to such a degree that Northern Irish Councillor Jason Barr has even started campaigning for the filter to be taken down.
Writing to TikTok, advocating for the removal of the apparition, the councillor told Belfast Live: “Some children have been left petrified by this filter and that’s why I’ve got in touch with the platform about getting it removed.
"Some people see this as funny but I can assure you it’s not funny when you have a child running out of a room screaming after seeing something like this.
“This morning I have written to TikTok in relation to the filter which contains a Ghost type figure which is being used to scare children.
"I find it really alarming that people would scare children in this way and leave them screaming in a locked room.
"This can have lasting effects on them.
“Please do not use this filter to scare your own children. It’s simply not normal and definitely is not funny in any way.”
In a statement released by TikTok, the social media group has said: “The safety and well-being of our community is our priority which is why we prohibit and remove content that promotes the abuse and bullying of minors.”
However, this begs the question of responsibility.
In an app designed for users 13 and over, it seems parents should be the ones held to account for misusing a playful feature.
It remains to be seen how long this filter will last, but even if the app decides the feature should remain, users will always have the capacity to misuse features for devious pranks.