Senior’s viral TikTok video roasts her ex-boyfriend; should she have done it?

January 24, 2020 — by Kaitlyn Tsai

When senior Vivienne Nguyen posted a video about her ex-boyfriend on the popular social media app Tik Tok on Nov. 28, she had fewer than 50 followers, all of them friends, and expected only around 20 views. A day later, Nguyen’s video had gone viral, garnering 2.4 million views and increasing her number of followers to over 16,500.

“I made the video as a joke to show my friends, so I was really confused at first when it blew up,” Nguyen said. “Afterwards, I thought it was kinda cool but kinda weird at the same time.”

The video includes photos of Nguyen and her ex-boyfriend, a student at another local high school, captioned “cheated on me and left me for another girl,” followed by photos of Nguyen and her current boyfriend, 2019 SHS grad Nick Burry. The video features the song “All You Wanna Do” from the musical “Six,” with Nguyen lip synching to the lines, “Yeah, that didn't work out, so I decided to have a break from boys, and you'll never guess who I met,” after showing the photos of her ex-boyfriend. 

Although most of her friends told her they were happy that her video unexpectedly went viral, Nguyen faced some backlash and drama as conflicting and twisted versions of the story behind the video arose. 

Some accused her of lying while others defended her. Nguyen said her ex-boyfriend’s cousin messaged her accusing her of posting the video just to gain followers and likes. Others commented that Nguyen shouldn’t have posted the video without getting her ex-boyfriend’s consent. 

However, Nguyen said she had no intention of gaining popularity with this video and even showed it to her ex-boyfriend — with whom she remains on friendly terms. She said he found the video funny and admitted that it was “karma for his actions.” 

Although Nguyen said she didn’t set out to expose her personal life to such a broad audience, her case raises questions about where teenagers should draw the line in terms of privacy on social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. 

Many TikTok users cross boundaries with the intent of gaining popularity by exposing aspects of their or others’ personal lives.

For example, in August 2019, TikTok user Bella Dorlado posted a video of herself dancing to a teary, apologetic voicemail from an ex-boyfriend who cheated on her. Ariq Chowdhury shared a series of videos supposedly exposing a friend’s mom who sent him explicit photos and continually invited him to her house. Another TikTok user, Nik Mannino, posted a video captioned “ayo abusive family check” in which viewers can hear a man verbally abusing his girlfriend in the background; all three users garnered over 400,000 likes with their posts, with Chowdhury’s receiving millions. 

The popularity of these videos reflects a growing trend in some teenagers’ attitudes toward social media. Rather than simply using TikTok for entertainment, these users focus on the fame they can achieve on the app, and with this mindset, they view exposing their or others’ personal lives as ways to gain popularity. For some, this raises concerns about how teenagers use these platforms and how they interact with the world around them. 

So far, no TikTok videos have sparked any libel lawsuits. The app’s community guidelines prohibit users from posting offensive or violent content or other people’s personal information. If a video violates these guidelines, TikTok can delete the video. 

Because Nguyen had first shared her video among a close circle of friends, she said she does not think she crossed a line in posting it. Still, she cautioned against getting too obsessed with TikTok, adding that sometimes people fake “exposing” others just for views.

“People get very caught up in TikTok because it’s a very addicting app,” Nguyen said. “But don’t fall for everything, especially for what people say online.”

Generally, TikTok users here said teenagers can address concerns about violating others’ privacy by simply thinking before posting. 

Sophomore Paula Nguyen (no relation to Vivienne) mostly watches videos on the app. She said it is important for users to “think about what they wouldn’t want to be shown about themselves.” 

Freshman Elsa Blom, who browses TikTok and makes her own videos to share with friends, added that teenagers can post what they want as long as they don’t interfere with others’ personal lives.

“I think TikTok is fun at a certain point, but you shouldn’t go out of your way to get famous for something,” Blom said. “Dancing or something fun like comedy videos are OK. But if it’s putting people in danger or sharing things without their consent, then it shouldn’t be done.”