Please do not create a “DNA folder” in case you are missing

TikTok’s obsession with true crime has evolved into something beyond bad taste: women are now stuffing hair and fingerprint samples into binders, generating misinformation in the process.

Last month, around the same time Bryan Kohberger was named as a suspect in the November murders of four University of Idaho students, a trend began to take off on TikTok: creating a DNA folder in case she went missing will.

In December, the account posted a TikTok detailing what she had placed in a literal folder labeled “In Case I Go Missing”: strands of hair, “clean fingerprints,” a handwriting sample, and from whatever Reason her medical records, although those won’t really help if you’re actually missing.

In another video, she adds “passwords and alarm codes” as well as her passport and “upcoming travel plans.”

“Identity theft in full swing,” says one commenter. Tell me you listen to a little too much crime junkies without telling me 😅 #ICIGM #incaseigomissing #crimejunkie #incaseigomissingbinder #savoritall #crimejunkies ♬ Original sound – Savor

The video has over 10 million views and a follow-up where she adds a sample of hair that actually contains a follicle has over 6 million views afterwards horrified Twitter. The Crime Junkie podcast referenced in the original TikTok has a section on its website called “If I Go Missing,” which is probably where this trend started.

In response to a commenter asking where she keeps this folder overflowing with personal information, she says, “I’m leaving it to someone I trust. Other people use a safe.” This account also posted about the folder in early 2022 and is selling it. We emailed you to request a comment.

Of course, that’s a very bad idea that you shouldn’t try, but TikTok often lacks that kind of critical thinking, so people tried it.

But more people pointed out the misinformation. Creator @frogmommyyy, who says she’s pursuing a master’s degree in coroner’s medicine, warned people not to do it for their mental health. In a follow-up, she explained that creating this folder will do no good because investigators will be looking for DNA from the person who allegedly kidnapped you, not you. And they wouldn’t need pre-plucked hair samples to possibly identify a corpse; They would take what was on the body and rather use dental pads.

“However, if you’re going to commit a crime and you want to be convicted of that crime, this folder is great for you,” she adds.

@frogmommyyy #stitch with I want to study these people’s brains #truecrime #incaseigomissing #criminology #forensics ♬ Original sound – Riley
@ykhong What might the world look like if we thought beyond individualism and towards community? #ableism #antioppression ♬ Original sound – YK

TikTok has long promoted other misinformation related to true crimes, such as myths about human trafficking and kidnapping.

“It totally fits with the sensationalist and often fake videos that are going around [on] both TikTok and Twitter about sex trafficking,” @frogmommyyy tells the Daily Dot. “It’s frustrating to see because it spreads misinformation and shifts the focus away from groups that are much more at risk, like Indigenous women and sex workers.” She adds that “it’s incredibly unethical, because of women’s very real fears capitalize on.”

More recently, true crime buffs on the app pinned the surviving roommate of the four college students killed in Moscow, Idaho, escalating tactics and blurring ethical lines. The death of Gabby Petito is another example of how the app helps turn tragedy into entertainment.


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*Initial publication: January 12, 2023 3:16 pm CST

Audra Schroeder

Audra Schroeder is the Daily Dot’s senior entertainment writer, focusing on streaming, comedy and music. Her work has previously appeared in the Austin Chronicle, Dallas Observer, NPR, ESPN, Bitch and the Village Voice. She lives in Austin, Texas.

Audra Schroeder Please do not create a “DNA folder” in case you are missing

Jaclyn Diaz

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