Deadly ‘Boat Jumping’ TikTok Challenge Was Actually Fake News

A supposedly viral TikTok “boat jumping” challenge, which was believed to have killed four people, has been outed as completely false.

On July 3, it was reported by multiple international news outlets that at least four people had died in Alabama while attempting a dangerous boat challenge that had been linked to a popular trend purportedly circulating on TikTok.


Le « boat jumping », ce challenge TikTok mortel qui inquiète aux États-Unis

♬ son original – Le Parisien

In the stunt, people are allegedly filmed jumping and flipping off of moving boats into the water — with the footage sometimes set to the “Oh No” TikTok sound effect.

“Last six months we have had four drownings that were easily avoidable,” Captain Jim Dennis of the Childersburg Rescue Squad told ABC News on July 3.

“The four that we responded to when they jumped out of the boat, they literally broke their neck and, you know, basically an instant death.”

Captain Dennis also said: “I think people, if they’re being filmed on camera, I think they’re more likely to do something stupid because they want to show off in front of their friends for social media.”

The news of a deadly TikTok “boat jumping” challenge being the cause of these four deaths was reported and widely shared by publications across the world, including on mainstream network news in the United States.

The TikTok Trend That Never Existed

But now, Alabama’s main public safety agency has stated while there have been boating fatalities this year, no such deaths caused by a TikTok boat jumping challenge have ever been reported.

“On Monday, July 3, a news story was shared regarding ‘first responders warning against a deadly boating TikTok trend after recent drownings’ in Alabama. However, please be advised the information released to the news outlet was incorrect,” Jeremy Burkett from the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency tells Forbes.

“The Alabama Law Enforcement Agency’s (ALEA) Marine Patrol Division does not have any record of boating or marine-related fatalities in Alabama that can be directly linked to TikTok or a trend on TikTok.”

Furthermore, Ben Rathe, a spokesperson for TikTok has now stated that a “boat jumping” challenge has never trended on its platform.

Meanwhile, Professor Elizabeth Losh, who studies TikTok trends, confirmed to AP that while some posts featuring people jumping off boats are visible on the platform — including one from 2019 with the hashtag #boatjumpchallenge — they do not appear to be particularly viral or widespread.

‘Blown Way Out of Proportion’

Captain Dennis says his original comments to that “it got blown way out of proportion” and that his remarks during an interview about boating safety were taken out of context.

It appears that at the time of his original interview, several news outlets seemed to create an association with TikTok that weren’t there. According to Forbes, a segment on NBC’s “The Today Show” — which dubbed it the “social media boat jumping challenge” — made the story go particularly viral.

However, there is in fact no evidence to suggest that the video app had anything to do with the deaths.

In May, PetaPixel reported on an artificial intelligence (AI) generated photo which showed a fake explosion outside the Pentagon. The doctored image went viral and even caused the markets to briefly dip.

Image credits: Header photo licensed via Depositphotos.