TikTok is certainly the up and coming platform, and is a perfect marketing tool to reach younger audiences. However, because of its appeal to a younger generation, there are potential issues with content moderation and policies as it moves to the mainstream social media sector.
An alarming discovery was made about a policy that limited the reach of content posted by users with disabilities, including users with autism, down syndrome, or facial defects. This was an attempt to protect said users who are “more susceptible to harassment and cyberbullying”, however, it made their content reach a much smaller audience on purpose. TikTok claims this was in response to bullying on the app, however, it was then discovered the same policy/algorithm was applied to videos of users who appeared to be “self-confident and overweight, or homosexual”. This problematic policy was in place until September this year.
Other problematic regulations came from the app’s owners and bosses in China. This included a user being suspended for posting videos condemning the Chinese government’s oppression of Muslims. There have also been concerns raised by Australia’s Strategic Policy Institute, claiming TikTok has been used to further Beijing’s political agenda. Questions have been raised about the platform’s ability to succeed while under the strict Chinese content regulations, and these problematic implications.
The application has dismissed its claims of censorship as miscommunication or misunderstandings, but the examples are undeniable. TikTok has repeatedly claimed the US-based content is independent, however if this is true, there needs to be solid documentation supporting it is not governed by Chinese regulations, and that posts will not be taken down or tampered with.