As if this past weekend’s Astroworld tragedy wasn’t bad enough on its own, a secondary problem has surfaced in the ensuing days centered around the spreading of offensively stupid conspiracy theories.
At the center of much of this spreading is TikTok, where videos positing Satanic Panic-esque fabrications have gained traction. Unfortunately, you’ve likely seen some of what’s been said in these clips, including theories about festival founder and headliner Travis Scott and “rituals” of the satanic and/or generally demonic variety.
Not only does content of this variety further complicate an already complicated situation while also subjecting victims’ families to the social media whims of conspiratorial charlatans, any such Satanic Panic entry is built on an inherently false idea of what Satanism actually is. In short, Satanism in its most widely used definition actually represents an atheistic worldview.
Still, Satan-centering theories have persisted on TikTok, with Rolling Stonereporting on Tuesday that a clip with more than 23 million views was among the most popular conspiracy videos being shared about Astroworld. While these clips see conspiracists attempting to make their argument by pointing to perceived symbolism, including the design of the stage itself, none of it is worth repeating here because it’s all equally offensive to those who lost their lives.
In the RS piece, a spokesperson for TikTok said the company was working on taking various forms of action, including with regards to search suggestions steering users toward conspiracy-related content about the festival. When reached by Complex on Tuesday, a rep for TikTok offered the following:
“Such content is in violation of our Community Guidelines and is being removed.”
Amid what was declared a “mass casualty incident,” eight attendees of the Scott-headlined festival died on Friday. In a recent Today interview, Houston Fire Chief Samuel Peña explained that it appears that barricades put in place to prevent a surge toward the stage “in essence caused other areas of pinch points.” People in the center of the ensuing pushing and compression, he added, “began to get crushed.”