Is Social Media Stoking Anxiety About Street Crime in New York City?

A series of viral videos from several young female TikTok users, who posted emotional dispatches about getting punched on city streets, caused concern this week about the topic among fans online.

Halley Kate Mcgookin, asocial media influencer with more than a million followers, posted on Monday morning thatshe was sending an email on her phone while walking in Manhattan when a man with a dog came up to her and hit her in the face without warning.

“You guys, I was literally just walking and a man came up and punched me in the face,” Ms. Mcgookin said in a video she recorded after the encounter that has been seen more than 46 million times. “Oh my God, it hurts so bad, I can’t even talk. Literally, I fell to the ground, and now this giant goose egg is forming.”

Shana Davis-Ross, a spokeswoman for Ms. Mcgookin, declined several requests for comment on the incident. Police officials said on Wednesday that they had made an arrest in an assault matching the details of Ms. Mcgookin’s case.

Other women have recently shared similar experiences on TikTok. Mikayla Toninato, a 27-year-old student at the Parsons School of Designposted that she was assaulted on 13th Street and Fifth Avenue. Karina Dunford, a 24-year-old model, also said she was attacked.

The random assaults come at a time when anxieties about crime in the city are escalating. A recent decision by Gov. Kathy Hochul to deploy the National Guard and the State Police to monitor the New York City subway system was largely in response to these concerns, though high-profile episodes that get a lot of online coverage often have the potential to fuel a misleading impression of crime.

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