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Who are the “Kia Boyz”? How TikTok fueled an epidemic of car thefts


Who are the “Kia Boyz”? How TikTok fueled an epidemic of car thefts

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

You may have read about the recent lawsuits against Kia and Hyundai in New York and other US cities. But what exactly led us to this point? As with many viral topics these days, it all started on TikTok.

During the pandemic, bored and tech-savvy teenagers began posting videos online showing how to steal Kias and Hyundais. Thefts of these cars began increasing dramatically around the country, and soon the social media challenge—where people film themselves doing something (like dumping a bucket of icy water over their head) then post the video online as proof—had caused deadly car crashes, a class-action lawsuit, and even drops in the automakers’ stock prices. Kia and Hyundai both began offering software updates and recalling cars, but the damage was done.

The Kia Boys & the TikTok challenge

The COVID-19 pandemic led to a huge number of social media challenges, especially among kids, simply due to boredom and extra time. In late 2021, the “Kia Boys” began going viral on TikTok. They were participating in a social media challenge that involved stealing Kias and Hyundais using a specific method and posting the results on TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube.

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