Anonymous Vigilante Group Hunts Down Cyberbullies on TikTok

A masked vigilante group is gaining virality on TikTok by exposing the identities of online trolls. The Great LonDini TikTok account, which has over 2.3 million followers, serves to hunt down cyberbullies on the app.

"We are taking social media back from the bullies, pedophiles, scammers and trolls," a member going by the alias Leo, a combat veteran, told the BBC.

One of the group's most popular videos has amassed over 12.3 million views and features a man with a black hood, an altered voice, and a handpainted mask with hollowed black eyes and a smile reminiscent of the Joker from the Batman movies and comics.

In the video, the man duets a video of a woman reading a troll's comment on her TikTok. "It took over eight hours to uncover this commenter," the masked man says. "Stupid game, stupid prize."

The "game" referred to here is hiding behind anonymous profiles online and attacking strangers, the "prize" is having your identity exposed to millions of users by the Great LonDini.

The name stems from a combination of The Great Houdini and Linux, a popular operating system.

"It's a nerdy way of saying you're a technical magician," Leo told Newsweek.

The Great LonDini
Anonymous vigilante group hunts down cyberbullies on TikTok Screengrab

In another video with more than 8 million views, the masked vigilante releases a troll's identity and Instagram profile. "He sees nothing wrong with criminally harassing a woman with disabilities." The masked man then says that he sent this information to the troll's employer.

After Leo's friend's 14-year-old autistic son took his life as the result of online harassment, the man's friends were able to track down the anonymous harasser and reach out to his parents.

The group, which started with Leo and his friends, has now become an operation run by people with military, cybersecurity and ethical hacking backgrounds. Leo said that the group started with about 20 people and has now grown into a network of over 600. The group is attempting to moderate the online platform to make it safer by reporting dangerous users to TikTok.

"I don't really even consider us vigilantes because we adamantly read TikTok's community guidelines and we follow all their rules," Leo said. "The big message we want to get out there is that we don't want to work against TikTok. We don't want to work against Instagram. We want to work with them...so that we can make sure that pedophilia, grooming, all these things are being curbed by people who have the time to help out with the moderation of a community."

Leo said that the group receives up to 3,000 Instagram DM's a day and says that majority are from people sharing their thanks. But he also says that he receives a lot of angry messages about how he is "soft" and a "snowflake."

The Great LonDini
Anonymous Vigilante Group Hunts Down Cyberbullies on TikTok Screengrab

"It's not about being hard or soft," Leo said. "Over 5,000 kids took their lives last year and more than 500,000 will attempt to, or have attempted to. It's not about politics or your political ideology. It's about trying to save as many kids as possible."

Leo claims that the majority of the trolls and cyberbullies they identify are aged 11 to 15 and that the youngest person the group has identified was just 9. Leo said that if they are able to uncover the identities of users who leave harassing comments and they happen to be minors, they will contact the parents.

While many are happy that individuals are taking responsibility for ridding the app of trolls and scammers, TikTok believes that some of the Great LonDini's videos break community guidelines. Leo told BBC that the group has had nine accounts deleted and its active account has faced suspension several times for online harassment and bullying.

TikTok reports over 61 million videos were removed in just the first three months of 2021 for violating the community guidelines. In its 2021 Transparency Report, the app mentions that they have introduced "a number of tools to help creators manage their TikTok experience, including numerous commenting, reporting, and blocking tools, as we work to improve proactive detection in this area."

"We just want to make sure that people know that parents have to start looking at social media as a real thing," Leo said. "They have to have a plan like they have a plan to escape the building when there's a fire, that they execute with their kids about what they do when they're getting harassed. Because if they don't, they're going to come home to their kids hanging in a bathroom and that's what we're trying to prevent. Nothing else."

Updated 08/19/2021, 3:09 p.m. ET: This story has been updated to include comments from a group member.