TikTok coercing moderators to 'filter out videos from ugly, poor or disabled users'

WION Web Team
New Delhi, India Updated: Mar 18, 2020, 11:36 AM(IST)

File photo of TikTok Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

These previously unreported Chinese policy documents provide new details about the company's efforts to enforce rigid constraints across its users.

The Chinese video-sharing app TikTok is pressurizing moderators to suppress videos from users deemed too ugly, poor or disabled, as part of the company’s efforts to curate an aspirational air in the videos it promotes.

Moderators were also told to censor political speech in TikTok live streams, punishing those who harmed ''national honour'' or broadcast streams about ''state organs such as police'' with bans from the platform, according to new documents published by The Intercept.

Also read: US Senators move bill to ban federal employees from using TikTok

The documents exposed that the moderators were told that videos were to be removed from the feed if “the shooting environment is shabby and dilapidated”, since ''this kind of environment is less fancy and aesthetically unappealing''.

These previously unreported Chinese policy documents provide new details about the company's efforts to enforce rigid constraints across its users while it simultaneously attempts to bolster its image as a global paragon of self-expression creativity. 

Also read: TikTok accused of sending user data to China in California lawsuit

A TikTok spokesperson said the goal was to prevent bullying on the platform, tying the document to a report from December that showed that the company was suppressing vulnerable users’ videos in a misguided effort to prevent them from becoming the centre of attention that could turn sour. 

TikTok is owned by Beijing-based tech unicorn Bytedance.

Other documents published by The Intercept show the extent of TikTok’s former rules requiring moderators to enforce Chinese foreign policy overseas.

The site published the company’s live streaming policies, which instruct moderators to take down ''controversial content'' that promotes the independence of Taiwan.

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