Tik Tok Moderators Reportedly Told to Censor Ugly Content

Published on March 16, 2020

Tik Tok, a controversial yet popular Chinese video-sharing app, is again in hot water. The company is reportedly telling moderators to suppress content that features abnormal body shapes, ugly faces, or dilapidated locations.

According to an investigation by The Intercept, the makers of Tik Tok instructed their moderators to exclude content that was deemed flawed from the curated “For You” section of the app.

The Ugly Truth

This flawed content includes anyone considered too unattractive or anyone with an abnormal body shape or visible disability. Other content the platform suppresses is anything moderators deem damaging to the national image. The app also censors any videos displaying poverty or an undesirable environment.

For Tik Tok, the idea is to create an attractive environment that will help the platform gain new users, and keep the users it already has. The problem, of course, is that this policy is wildly discriminatory.

Previously, Tik Tok has defended its exclusionary policies by saying it’s all a way to minimize bullying on the app. This time, in the documents obtained by The Intercept, there is no mention of any anti-bullying justification for these policies. The goal is only to grow the app and its user base.

Adding to The Social Media Toxicity

Guidelines are always at least a little murky when it comes to social media moderation. It’s always somewhat unclear what platforms promote or suppress and why. It’s safe to say that although some might be mysterious, Tik Tok’s guidelines are by far the worst.

Social media is geared towards promoting beautiful people living lives of luxury. This is especially true of newer social media that includes a younger demographic.

While some platforms are attempting to limit the toxic effects of social media, it seems that Tik Tok is just leaning into the fray. Tik Tok is instructing moderators to engage in blatantly discriminatory behavior for the sake of upholding the app’s image. This practice undoubtedly feeds into the toxic side of social media.

When regular people only see beautiful people in expensive locations, instead of people who look like them, it undeniably causes self-esteem issues. It takes away what social media should be, a place where anyone can create content in an equal way, not just able-bodied, thin, wealthy, pretty people.

Olivia Smith is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in San Francisco, she covers events, entertainment, fashion, and technology. She also serves as a Voices contributor at PopSugar.

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