- A TikTok user went live Monday appearing to pass off an old video of Billie Eilish as new.
- Thousands appeared to watch the video and begged the singer to invite them to stream with her.
- The streamer appeared to accept TikTok gifts, which could be redeemed for perks on the app.
- Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Thousands of TikTok users seemed to be fooled late Monday when an account appeared to pass off an old video of musician Billie Eilish as a live video.
The fact-checking website Snopes first reported the stream. It didn’t originate from Eilish’s official account and it lacked the TikTok blue check, meaning the company hadn’t verified the streamer. But some users who stumbled upon the video while scrolling TikTok’s “For You” page, which uses an algorithm to deliver a custom feed of videos to users, didn’t appear to notice.
In the video, Eilish appeared to select fans at random to go live with her. Comments poured in begging Eilish to “pick” them to talk to her, Snopes reported. Eilish answered fan questions, though none of the questions appeared to come from the TikTok live chat, Mashable noted.
When the video ended, the same clip immediately started over, tipping off viewers that the stream wasn’t live. Eilish also debuted platinum blonde locks in March, another indication that the video, which appeared to show the singer with silver hair, was old.
The incident Monday wasn’t the first time an old video of Eilish appeared on TikTok. On June 24, another TikTok account streamed a different video of Eilish. At least 43,000 people tuned in to that livestream, according to Snopes. That video appeared to originate from a January 2021 livestream on Eilish’s Instagram, Snopes reported, citing an archived video of that stream on YouTube.
—Nick Abouzeid (@nickabouzeid) July 6, 2021
The streams were in “no way associated with Billie,” a spokesperson for Eilish told Insider on Tuesday.
TikTok requires a user to have at least 1,000 followers before they can use the live-streaming feature, according to the company’s guidelines. Neither account that streamed the clips exist on the platform as of Tuesday afternoon, but both had more than 60,000 followers before they vanished from TikTok, Mashable reported.
Monday’s TikTok streamer also appeared to have the app’s gifting feature enabled during the stream, which allows other users to purchase “gift points” that cost real money. These points can be used to buy virtual “gifts” that can be sent to streamers and eventually redeemed. It’s not clear how many gifts were sent during either of the livestreams and whether the gift points were returned to users.
The company in December 2019 introduced new rules to curb the misuse of its gifting feature, limiting the feature to users 18 years or older.
Representatives for TikTok didn’t return Insider’s request for comment on Tuesday, but a spokesperson for the company confirmed to Mashable that such streams violated its community guidelines.
“Our community expects an authentic and entertaining experience, and we work hard to maintain that by identifying and removing behavior that violates our Community Guidelines,” the spokesperson told the outlet. “We continue to invest in strengthening our detection and prevention mechanisms to minimize the potential for this behavior to flourish on our platform.”
Similar celebrity impersonation tactics have not been limited to TikTok — Reuters reported multiple examples on Facebook last year.
Thousands of users on Clubhouse, the live audio platform that gained popularity earlier this year, briefly thought they were listening to rapper Kanye West speak on the app in February. They were actually listening to his 2019 interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe.
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