TikTok censored LGBT content due to moderation guidelines

27 September 2019, 16:02 | Updated: 3 November 2020, 10:34

Nicky Idika

By Nicky Idika

According to a new report from The Guardian, TikTok censored 'pro-lgbt' content in some markets–even in countries where homosexuality is not against the law. TikTok says that some of these moderation guidelines described are no longer in use.

Popular short-form video app TikTok has seen a boom in popularity in 2019. Widely used by teens, the app is often the breeding ground for many viral trends and memes.

According to internal communication seen by The Guardian, TikTok's moderation guidelines have resulted in censoring certain types of content – including "banning any content that could be seen as positive to gay people or gay rights" in some countries. Even countries where homosexuality is legal, according to the report.

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TikTok. Picture: Getty

To be clear, these "strict" moderation guidelines do not apply to all countries, but rather ones where "conservative moral codes" dictate that the app must censor such content. This might include Russia, for instance, where "gay propaganda" laws are currently in place.

Though TikTok guidelines differ from country to country, The Guardian's report indicates that pro-LGBT content on TikTok has been moderated in places where homosexuality is not outlawed by the government.

The publication cites guidelines localised in Turkey as an example, where drinking and depictions of hand-holding or kissing "between homosexual lovers” were censored.

TikTok now says that these LGBT content guidelines described for the Turkish market are no longer in use.

“Our platform has experienced rapid growth in Turkey and other markets, and as we grow we are constantly learning and refining our approach to moderation," a TikTok spokesperson explained. "The referenced guidelines regarding LGBTQ content in Turkey are no longer in use, and we have since made significant progress in establishing a more robust localised approach. However, we recognise the need to do more and we are actively working with local third parties and independent advisers to ensure our processes are appropriate.”

TikTok also said that it was "a platform for creativity, and committed to equality and diversity."

Meanwhile, The Guardian's initial report also highlighted moderation policies banning "criticism/attack towards policies, social rules" in countries like already heavily censored China.

HT: The Guardian