'It’s bullying': Regina TikTok account faces backlash for sharing videos of vulnerable people in crisis
Videos posted on TikTok showing people in Regina in the midst of mental health crises show the stigma still attached to addictions, advocates say.
The 11 videos lead to growing concern over the treatment of people experiencing addictions crises and were shared with hashtags like #ExperienceRegina and #seeYQR.
When resident Joey Reynolds found the videos online, he recognized several people he knew.
“It saddened me,” he said. “But at the same time, it frustrated me.”
Reynolds, who spends most of his time downtown, said they were humiliating to watch.
“It’s bullying,” he said. “Online bullying can really harm a person.”
Addictions councillor and advocate Rand Teed works with people experiencing addictions issues. He believes the videos perpetuated the stigma surrounding individuals who are in need of help.
“We discriminate at that level and say, ‘these people aren’t worthy of compassion.’ That’s not what our society is about,” he explained. “There’s attention seeking going on by the people that did that.”
The source of the videos appeared to be security cam footage from a building downtown with both residential and business units.
CTV News learned a tenant not affiliated with any business claimed to be the owner of the TikTok account. They said they have access to the security cam footage in their building for “security reasons.”
Their identity could not be confirmed.
“I’m sorry to the people who were in the videos that weren’t committing crimes,” they said in a statement. “I think it does need to get brought to light that this is a very raw and real look at what’s going on in the city.”
They went on to say the videos were posted in a “humorous manner.”
“I’m sorry to anyone I hurt by posting the videos but hopefully it brings awareness to the crisis people are in downtown and we can start to change for the better,” they said.
The poster said they deactivated the account on Wednesday and removed the videos from the app.
“I understand the damage, embarrassment, and offensive attention the videos caused but it also can’t be ignored,” they said. “I never meant to hurt anyone’s feelings and I have learned that posting them may not be the right thing, so they have been taken down.”
Teed said social media can still be used as a tool for advocates to make real change.
“We have the capacity to help people change that really archaic thinking that these are bad people,” he said. “There are some good social media campaigns that brings attention to this issue and let people know this kind of video is not acceptable.”
Reynolds was relieved to see the videos removed.
“We need to take a positive step forward,” he said. “People deserve to feel safe.”
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