The infamous social media app has admitted to blocking LGBTQ+ hashtags to correspond with laws in specific countries.
In a recent report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, it was discovered that many LGBTQ+ hashtags and content were banned from countries like Russia, Jordan and Bosnia.
The report states that “Hashtags related to LGBTQ+ issues are suppressed on the platform in at least 8 languages.”
The hashtags include “GayArab”, “I am gay” in Russian, “Gay” in Estonian, “I am a lesbian” in Russian and “Transgender” in Arabic.
The report also mentions the term “shadow-ban”, which is a method used to slow down the filtration of certain content without fully banning the subject matter.
A spokesperson from TikTok responded to the report stating: “As part of our localised approach to moderation, some terms that the ASPI provided were partially restricted due to the relevant local laws. Other terms were restricted because they were primarily used when looking for pornographic content…”
TikTok has seen its fair share of controversy when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation. Back in December 2019, trans users opened up about their posts being deleted. In an interview with the BBC, TikTok user Clarissa Jacob stated: “I felt defeated. Nobody was seeing my content, nobody cared and there was nothing I could do.
LGBTQ+ issues and representation aren’t the only content TikTok has been accused of censoring. The Black Lives Matter movement and the ongoing protests have also seen signs of suppression, especially after the tragic death of George Floyd. The #acab hashtag – which stands for “all cops are bastards” – was blocked during the height of the protests but was made available after public scrutiny.
But with their shortcomings and overcompensation to please certain regions of the world, TikTok wants to reassure its LGBTQ+ users that they are in support of the community. In a statement released in June of this year, the company states: ” it’s important to us that the LGBTQ+ voices and stories of those who are pushing forward acceptance for all and helping to create a world where everyone has the right to be who they are and who they love are shared, seen and heard.”
For the full ASPI report click here.
'TikTok and WeChat: Curating and controlling global information flows' is the latest report from @ASPI_ICPC. In the report @fryan, @AudreyFritz5 & @DariImpio look at content moderation & censorship on TikTok & WeChat
— ASPI (@ASPI_org) September 8, 2020