Jason Derulo, dance challenges, and professional chefs have nothing in common except one thing: being featured on TikTok. The app has gained immense popularity the past year with young adults and teenagers, being dubbed the “Vine 2.0”.
TikTok, a social media app, allows users to make short videos using sound bites uploaded by other TikTok users. This allows for certain audios to attain more usage than others and be interpreted differently. Many times trends are associated with specific songs and audios, enabling viewers to have assured assumptions on what the video will entail and what the person behind the screen looks like.
When TikTok finds videos that prove assumptions wrong, the chance of the video being seen to most users significantly decreases. More simply said, TikTok suppresses videos that don’t appear to gain popularity. A spokesperson for the app recently came forward, saying that moderators have been instructed to flag “vulnerable” creators for their best interest. This suspiciously seems more like TikTok’s best interest.
What Tiktok deems as “vulnerable” feels more like discriminatory by admitting they suppress videos created by LGTBQ+, disabled or plus-size TikTokers. Administrators believe they are protecting this group of users from gaining hate in the comments section, but the actual app assuming they will receive negativity is a form of discrimination on its own.
Cyberbullying is a distressing and important issue that is becoming more relevant than ever in 2020, but the company’s video suppression policy still hurts users, despite their good intentions. After the backlash facing the policy that supposedly wasn’t expecting to last long, the social network app has abandoned this form of “anti-bullying”.
“While the intention was good, the approach was wrong and we have long since changed the earlier policy in favor of more nuanced anti-bullying policies and in-app protections,” a spokesperson for TikTok said.
The app should hone their focus on the “bullies” rather than the “bullied”. A majority of the hostility on the app can be found in the comments section, which is where additional regulation could be put in place to filter out triggering statements.
TikTok is slowly becoming known for its toxic content which can be extremely impressionable on young users. The viral videos on the app seem to follow a subtle but established formula: young + conventionally attractive + wealthy = trending video. Making this a norm disregards videos that don’t follow this standard, which is further confirmed by the video suppression policy. Despite the policy currently not being in place, it should be a wake-up call that prejudice against certain communities still exists.
Having to publicly admit videos have been suppressed to dilute hate is a form of admittance from the company themselves that the app’s level for hate is far too high. If TikTok plans on cementing their place in the social networking app kingdom, serious changes must be made.