TikTok admits censoring certain users' videos to stop bullying

Author: The Guardian (UK), Published on: 5 December 2019

“TikTok owns up to censoring some users' videos to stop bullying”, 4 December 2019

TikTok has admitted censoring posts by users it identified as disabled, fat or LGBTQ+ as part of a misguided effort to cut down on bullying on the platform.

According to a report from the German site NetzPolitik.org, the video-sharing site artificially limited the reach of users who it thought would be vulnerable to bullying if their videos reached a wide audience…

The automatic restrictions were applied to users who were “susceptible to bullying or harassment based on their physical or mental condition”, according to documents obtained by NetzPolitik.org, including “facial disfigurement, autism, Down syndrome, [or] disabled people or people with some facial problems”.

Other users were put on the restriction list… manually, based on their high risk of bullying. A “striking number” of these “special users”, NetzPolitik.org reports, “show a rainbow flag in their biographies or describe themselves as lesbian, gay or non-binary … The list also includes users who are simply fat and self-confident.”

TikTok confirmed the substance of the reporting, telling the publication that the rules were a stopgap solution to bullying on the platform, and were “never intended to be a long-term solution”.

In a follow-up statement, TikTok said: “Early on, in response to an increase in bullying on the app, we implemented a blunt and temporary policy. While the intention was good, the approach was wrong and we have long since changed the earlier policy in favour of more nuanced anti-bullying policies and in-app protections.” According to Netzpolitik.org, the rules were in place as recently as September…

[Also referred to Bytedance]

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