The TikToker who created the bogus #PorcelainChallenge trend as a joke “to get the boomers to freak out” claims he has been kicked off the app.
Sebastian Durfee, 23, known as @childprogeny on the social media app, says he was booted shortly after he got about half a million views of his Oct. 1 hoax — in which he suggested his followers begin claiming that kids are smashing up heirloom porcelain plates and snorting the powdery remains.
“The fact that the company reacted to the challenge by removing my videos and my account just proves exactly the point I had been making in creating the challenge: that people would rather dissolve into moral panic at the first sign of danger than actually investigate the source for its veracity,” he told The Post.
Durfee, who lives in New York, told The Post that he switched to his alternative account @sebastian_spams to let his followers know that several of his videos were removed by TikTok “for supposedly violating community guidelines,” which caused him to suspect a suspension was imminent.
When he tried to log back in to his main account on Monday, two days after the original video was posted, it was removed, he claimed.
“I was informed that the account no longer existed and had been permanently banned. I received no formal notification, reasoning or justification for the decision,” he said.
Durfee said his ban came after months of fighting with TikTok, which did not return The Post’s requests for comment on the reason why the account is no longer active.
“I wanted to test the hypothesis of whether a false rumor could spread if it wasn’t created to be believable in the first place and could be debunked practically effortlessly,” he said.
“All of my videos made it clear from the start that the challenge was fictional and that it was dangerous and not to be performed,” Durfee told us. “Rather than allow the true origin of the challenge to remain publicly and easily accessible, TikTok took efforts to ensure that it will now spread on their app with no evidence of its source, which in turn will only make it more believable.”
In the video, Durfee says: “We don’t actually have to do [the challenge], but if we reference it enough, do you think we could get like a BuzzFeed article about it? It can be funny.”
“I thought it would be interesting to see if I could find the sweet spot of manufacturing something that is blatantly false and have the receipts to prove it — anyone could look it up and find out where it started,” Durfee told NBC News, “but still be interesting enough that people will want to get in on it and help it spread.”
“If you’re watching the video, the first thing you hear is, ‘Let’s make a fake challenge that we’re not actually going to do,’” Durfee said.
As the video spread, fellow TikTokers joined in on the fake fun, posting satirical “awareness” videos and made-up anecdotal stories bearing false witness to the challenge’s harmful effects.
“For the most part, it seemed like everybody who knew about it was in on it and was part of the joke, and I didn’t think it would progress any further than that,” he said.
There are no credible reports that anyone has actually taken the porcelain challenge seriously by attempting to snort ground-up china, but Durfee did share videos of photoshopped news articles claiming that thousands have been hospitalized for joining in.
That was “rather discouraging,” Durfee said of people’s lack of media literacy and ease with which they bought into the hysteria without any fact-checking.
“I wanted to see if I could take the people who were in on the joke and make them unaware that they were part of the next round of critique,” he added.
But just days after his initial post, Durfee’s video was flagged as dangerous content.
“The moral panic overcomes the actual facts of the situation. No one’s doing this,” he said. “No one even thinks other people are doing it. But since I’ve referenced something that is in itself dangerous … that’s just as apparently bad as endorsing it.”
The content creator explained to The Post that he was inspired to create the fake challenge in part to highlight TikTok’s unbalanced monitoring and enforcement of their guidelines.
Durfee said he frequently receives death threats and hateful comments, which he reports to the app and is consistently informed that the comments have been reviewed and deemed appropriate. Meanwhile, his satirical videos were flagged for “laughable” reasons.
“In other words, TikTok has demonstrated not only a pattern of subjectivity and unfairness in their removal of harmless content, but also has made it clear through their actions that truly dangerous and hateful content can and should remain protected on their app,” he told The Post.
But others have caused unwarranted hysteria that in itself has popularized the “challenge.” Some, like the #PorcelainChallenge or the Skeleton Brunch prank, have been blatant jokes mocking how easily false information can spread and older generations can be fooled by their lack of media literacy.