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Viral TikTok video misleadingly accuses clothing company Shein of exploitation

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By Sophia Khatsenkova
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Viral TikTok video accuses Shein of exploiting its factory workers
Viral TikTok video accuses Shein of exploiting its factory workers   -   Copyright  Euronews // TikTok

A viral TikTok video claims to show different messages that have been written or even stitched onto labels of clothing produced by the Chinese fast-fashion giant Shein

The video has received more than 40 million views and has even prompted some online users to support a boycott of Shein products.

However, this video is misleading and not all of the images in the clip are actual calls for help from within Shein's supply chain.

The first image comes from a 2015 news report about a woman from Michigan in the U.S., who found a "help me" sign in a package from an underwear company located in the Philippines.

There is no evidence of any link between this note and Shein.

Another image in the TikTok also shows a "help me" on a packaging label from a different Chinese clothing brand, Romwe.

The brand addressed this note in 2018 and explain that the "Help me" referred to a bookmark they sold with that phrase on it. It has since been relabelled to avoid confusion.

Another image showing "SOS" written over a message in Chinese was also included in the misleading TikTok video.

This photo is from a 2014 BBC News article about a note that was found in clothing purchased at a Primark store in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Primark told the BBC that it launched an investigation and said the products were sold several years before the news story broke.

Euronews also checked other images in the video and found one of them was a stock photo and the other was a badly translated tag saying "I have dental pain" that has been circulating on humour forums since 2014.

It is not the first time that Shein or others in the fast-fashion industry have been credibly accused of poor and exploitative working conditions.

Shein released a statement on TikTok saying that they “take supply chain matters seriously” and have a strict Code of Conduct in place that prohibits suppliers from using child or forced labour.

Video editor • Matthew Holroyd