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Young Americans are defending the U.S. after TikTok videos criticizing it went viral

"I think it’s really hypocritical to see so many people have discourse around the U.S. when those same issues are often reflected in other countries," said one TikTok user.
Photo Illustration: An American flag with TikTok logos replacing the 50 stars
TikTokers in the U.S. are pushing back against American stereotypes after a user posted several videos about the country's lack of diversity. Justine Goode; NBC News / Getty Images

Some young American TikTok users are coming to the country’s defense after seeing viral videos made by overseas users that elevate stereotypes about people who live in the United States.

The trend ramped up this week after one user, who goes by Sara Falcon, made a series of viral videos in which she criticized the U.S. and suggested that there is a lack of diversity in the country. It's unclear where Sara Falcon, who has made her account private, is from or where she is based. Users speculate she is British. Her other accounts on social media are also private. Her YouTube and Twitter accounts appear inactive. She was unable to be reached for comment.

However, clips from Sara Falcon's original videos continue to circulate TikTok in stitched videos from other users. Sara Falcon's name has since become a hashtag on the platform, racking up more than 1.8 million views as of Wednesday.

“Even with a smaller population, the U.K. is still more diverse than the U.S.,” Sara Falcon says in one video, which has since been removed or made private. In another video, which has also been removed or made private, she says, “in the U.S., if you’re fluent in seven languages, you get put on an FBI watch list.”

Sara Falcon's commentary has become a flashpoint for some American users on TikTok, who said they typically wouldn’t defend the United States but felt they had to correct the misinformation in her videos.

A 2021 Pew Research study found that young people in the U.S. held “far more skeptical views of America’s global standing than older adults.” The study found that 42% of people polled between ages 18 to 29 felt that there “are other countries that are better than the U.S.”

Still, “after seeing her video I was like, ‘Nah. I need to say something for the sake of myself and if not anyone else,” said Rhea Shetty, who made a video in response to Sara Falcon.

Shetty posted a video responding to a TikTok video in which Sara Falcon said “people inside of the U.S. [believe that] the U.S. is the only country."

“Surprisingly enough, most Americans don’t believe this, but I am convinced we’re the only country that is on your mind 24/7, rent-free like this,” Shetty says in her video response.

Other TikTok users said they feel Falcon’s videos whitewashed the United States.

“I kind of got the impression the most exposure she got to America was like ‘Friends’ or ‘Seinfeld,’” said Jumana Shami, 27. “I can understand why you would think America looks this way, but it’s very divorced from reality.”

Before going private on social media, Sara Falcon claimed her videos were part of a “social experiment.”

“It’s not about misinformation,” she said another video that has since been removed or been made private on the platform. “It’s actually about patriotic brainwashing within the U.S. education system.”

Sara Falcon is the most recent creator to go viral for sharing her views on the U.S. But she isn’t the only non-American creator to make content that American Gen Zers and millennials have felt compelled to reply to.

In recent weeks, videos responding to criticism from British and European users have pervaded “For You” pages. The hashtag “#BritishSlander” has more than 10 million views.

“I’m the last person to sit here and love and dote on the U.S. Our country as a whole has a lot of issues," Shetty, 23, said. "But I think it’s really hypocritical to see so many people have discourse around the U.S. when those same issues are often reflected in other countries."

Shami, who grew up in a multi-language household with a Syrian father and Irish-Catholic mother, said she often feels she’s labeled as “other” because she’s an American who wears hijab. She said Sara Falcon’s videos struck a nerve with her because they played into the idea that the U.S. looks, acts and speaks exclusively one way.

“My grandparents raised cows and corn,” Shami said. “I don’t know how much more American you can get.”

TikTok user Ivey Family Farms shared one upside to Sara Falcon’s videos.

“Sara, girlfriend," Ivey Family Farms says in a video uploaded on Tuesday. "You’ve just united the United States of America. I'm serious ... here you are uniting us with a couple of ignorant TikToks.”