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TikTok Pledges to Take Hardline on Hateful Content Including LGBTQIA+ Conversion Therapy and White Nationalism.


By Hanna McNeila.

Although TikTok is known primarily for viral dances, funny audios, and cute animal clips, the app’s content isn’t entirely innocent. TikTok’s dark underbelly has come under fire of late, with widespread criticism regarding what is and isn’t banned. The platform has been accused of over-censoring minority groups while allowing harmful content posted by others to remain on the site. As a platform that is predominantly popular amongst Gens Y and Z, changing this is crucial. On Wednesday, TikTok issued a statement in which they pledged to crackdown on hateful ideologies.

The post noted that the app plans to block content that is harmful to the LGBTQIA+ community, content linked to white supremacy, and content that spreads misinformation about Jewish and Muslim communities. Although explicit hate speech pertaining to white supremacy was already banned, the platform now plans to take a step futher, by banning hateful content in support of white nationalism and misogyny. Under the crackdown, TikTok will remove posts that advocate for conversion therapy as well as videos that suggest that no one is born LGBTQIA+. The company wrote in a statement, “we will stem the spread of coded language and symbols that can normalize hateful speech and behavior.” The app’s spokesperson also noted that they will co-operate with academics and experts from across the globe to assess new risks as they emerge in order to actively protect users.

Many groups have praised TikTok for their decision, with LGBTQIA+ non-profit organization The Trevor Project releasing a response statement: “The Trevor project is thankful to see TikTok ban content that promotes the dangerous and discredited practice of conversion therapy. We know from our research that conversion therapy is strongly associated with greater rates of attempting suicide, so it is imperative to protect LGBTQ youth from this misleading, harmful and outright fraudulent content on social media.”

TikTok’s announcement came just days after the app disclosed that they would also be removing content to do with QAnon, a group of right wing conspiracy theorists, as opposed to merely blocking hashtags.