TikTok bans Milk Crate Challenge (because it’s super-dangerous to fall off crates?)

People stand around at dusk watching a man fall off a large pyramid of milk crates
The so-called Milk Crate Challenge — where participants attempt to walk over a pyramid made of the plastic boxes — didn’t end well Tuesday for this man in Venice.
(Apu Gomes / AFP via Getty Images)

Because too many users apparently thought a shot at going viral was worth a possible shot at going to the emergency room, TikTok has banned the so-called Milk Crate Challenge.

For those unfamiliar, this latest feat inviting injury involves stacking milk crates into a pyramid and walking up one side and down the other. Judging from a sampling of the countless videos posted online, this frequently (usually) results in the pyramid collapsing and the challengers, um, cratering. The milk crates may be strong, but they are not stable.

    George Gantsoudes, a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in Fairfax, Va., tweeted, “The orthopaedic surgeries required to fix problems caused by this may fall under the umbrella of ‘elective surgeries’ Might not want to tempt the trauma gods if you live south of the Mason-Dixon.”

    TikTok can’t stop people from risking fractures for fun and profit, but it can ban hashtags, which it has done in this case. Searching for related hashtags on the app now returns the message, “This phrase may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines. Promoting a safe and positive experience is TikTok’s top priority. For more information, we invite you to review our Community Guidelines.”

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    The app issued the following statement: “TikTok prohibits content that promotes or glorifies dangerous acts, and we remove videos and redirect searches to our Community Guidelines to discourage such content. We encourage everyone to exercise caution in their behavior whether online or off.”

    That may come as a surprise to TikTokers, Tweeters and YouTubers who have enjoyed, for instance, the Kiki Challenge (which started innocently enough then mutated into participants getting out of slowly moving cars and keeping pace with them to dance to Drake’s “In My Feelings”). That produced some hilarious — and some absolutely terrifying — fails, including more than one video of participants being actually struck by moving cars because they were playing to the camera instead of watching the road.

    Others to have their heyday included challenges involving Benadryl, workout powder (in one case causing a heart attack) and, of course, Tide Pods.

    When it comes to the Milk Crate Challenge, the many doctors going online to warn against it aren’t being alarmist: There have been multiple reports of injuries caused by the stunt.

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    “Gravity always wins,” Gantsoudes told The Times, “so when people accelerate toward the Earth at awkward angles, you are at risk for fractures and dislocations of various types. Spinal injuries are entirely possible.


    “As a parent, I recognize the challenges that the last 18 months have brought, and I know people want to return to ‘normal,’ but this isn’t it. Find better (safer) ways to have fun. The consequences of falling 5-6 feet face-first aren’t just bruises. People could get seriously hurt,” he said.

    “Most of my job involves fixing injuries from ‘being a kid.’ When I tell kids that I won’t stop them from skateboarding, but I need them to wear a helmet, it’s all about mitigating risk. I am not sure how one mitigates risk doing this silly challenge.”

    At a time when approval from federal agencies has become even more important in people’s health-related decisions, perhaps would-be participants should listen to the Food and Drug Administration’s response to a recent Conan O’Brien tweet.

    “Waiting for FDA approval before I take the Milk Crate Challenge,” O’Brien wrote. The official FDA Twitter account responded, “Although we regulate milk, we can’t recommend you try that. Perhaps enjoy a nice glass of 2% and return all those crates to the grocery store?”