TikTok users accuse app of deleting trans content

It's not the first time the app has been accused of anti-LGBTQ censorship.

Feb 13, 2020, 5:30 pm*

Internet Culture

Allyson Waller 

Allyson Waller

trans tiktok censorship

Zackary Drucker/The Gender Spectrum Collection

Transgender TikTok users say their content on the app is being removed because of their gender identities. It’s not the first time the wildly popular video app has been accused of anti-LGBTQ censorship.

The BBC reports that “videos, including some of people discussing their lives, were taken down and others had the sound removed.” Some users said their content had been “repeatedly taken down.”

In a statement, TikTok said the app “is an inclusive space for positive and creative expression” and that it does not “remove any content on the basis of expression of gender identity,” according to the BBC.

Some videos were reportedly taken down for violating guidelines in relation to “smoking and nudity.” However, TikTok did not elaborate on the reasons that other videos were removed.

Clarissa Jacobo told the BBC she deleted her TikTok account in response to having her content taken down.

“These apps censor LGBT creators who just want to spread positivity and help people but they can’t because nobody will be able to see it,” Jacobo told the BBC.

Reice Hodges told the BBC she’s “mad” that several of her videos have been removed.

“There are some videos that I spend hours making… and to have one of those videos removed really discourages me,” she said.

In December, TikTok admitted to requesting moderators to flag accounts they saw as susceptible to bullying. The German website Netzpolitik broke the story after obtaining leaked documents revealing the practice.

The flagged accounts reportedly used tags including #fatwoman, #disabled, or LGBTQ-related images or phrases. TikTok told Netzpolitik the practice was not intended to be “long-term” and that the rules had been retired.

The Guardian also revealed TikTok’s previous local moderation guidelines for countries like Turkey censored content “seen as positive to gay people or gay rights.” According to the Guardian, TikTok said these guidelines ended in May of last year.

In January, TikTok unveiled its new Community Guidelines, which “follow the lead of the world’s biggest social media companies in many cases, and go even further in some instances,” according to Wired.

About 80% of LGBT adults are active users of social networking sites, according to a 2013 Pew Research study.

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*First Published: Feb 13, 2020, 5:29 pm