Ross: Kia is getting sued for thefts, but why not TikTok?

Jan 30, 2023, 7:47 AM | Updated: 9:58 am

tiktok challenge kia...

Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison is suing Kia and Hyundai for hundreds of car thefts in Seattle. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

According to Seattle City Attorney Ann Davison, Hyundai and Kia thefts are out of control in Seattle, to the point that it has become a public nuisance.

So she is suing the carmakers. The lawsuit claims that in 2021, thieves stole 158 Hyundais and Kias, and then last year, that jumped to 825.

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Which has meant more joyriding, more police chases, and more work for the prosecutor’s office – all of which endangers the public and cost the city more money.

And the lawsuit claims the main reason it’s happening is because Kia cut corners and decided not to equip its American cars with even the most rudimentary anti-theft technology – such that hot-wiring a Kia doesn’t even require a hot wire. All you have to do is watch one of the many, many videos that show you how to do it with a USB plug.

But it seems to me there’s also another potential guilty party here.

Because as bad as car theft is, it gets worse when it becomes a contest! And Kia theft has become a contest because of TikTok.

By now we know how that works. Someone challenges people to do the same dumb thing they did, and as a result, we get the choking challenge, the snorting challenge, etc. – as if the hospitals weren’t busy enough already – and now the Kia challenge, which it turns out isn’t really much of a challenge at all, because the cars were practically made to be stolen.

Kia says the problem is being fixed in newer models, and they have a patch for older models, so they’re basically admitting they screwed up.

But what about TikTok’s responsibility?

The numbers show that the TikTok hashtag “Kia Boys” – which is where the Kia challenge lives – has 33 million views. 33 million!

Now, like other social media companies, TikTok claims to be merely a platform. But when your so-called “platform” has a hit series with 33 million views, the way I see it, that “platform” has become a broadcast network, and it needs to be responsible for that content.

I know we broadcasters do broadcast some crazy things – game shows, talent contests, ninja courses, the Gee & Ursula Show – but one thing we cannot do and would not do is encourage people to steal your car with instructions on how to do it.

Even though I bet it would get ratings.

Listen to Seattle’s Morning News with Dave Ross and Colleen O’Brien weekday mornings from 5 – 9 a.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Ross: Kia is getting sued for thefts, but why not TikTok?