TikTok Blocked Posts From Users Deemed “Ugly” or Poor

TikTok thinks you're ugly

tiktok ugly
The US government is reportedly "looking at" banning TikTok
Photo by Chesnot/Getty Images
By Kayla Kibbe / March 17, 2020 11:04 am

While lots of young TikTokers were busy calling themselves ugly, it turns out TikTok didn’t disagree. New documents have revealed that moderators on the Chinese-owned video sharing app were instructed to suppress posts created by TikTok users considered “ugly,” poor or disabled, according the Intercept.

Those instructions reportedly included blocking out videos showing signs of both rural and urban poverty, “beer bellies,” and “crooked smiles.” According to one document, moderators also scanned posts for signs of under-privilege in users’ homes, such as cracked walls and “disreputable decor” — whatever that means. If such signs of “shabby and dilapidated” environments were spotted, moderators were instructed to narrow the user’s TikTok audience.

And as for as the users themselves, the rules were even more rigid and blatantly discriminatory. Moderators were reportedly told to suppress posts from users with “abnormal body shape,” “ugly facial looks,” dwarfism, “too many wrinkles,” “eye disorders,” and other “low quality” traits.

While Josh Gartner, a TikTok spokesperson, told the Intercept that “most of” the unsavory guidelines in question “are either no longer in use, or in some cases appear to never have been in place,” sources told the Intercept that the policies were in use at least as of late last year. Meanwhile, though Gartner explained that the strict user appearance guidelines “represented an early blunt attempt at preventing bullying,” the guidelines themselves make no mention of bullying, instead offering TikTok’s status as an “aspirational” platform as justification for the discriminatory policies.

“If the character’s appearance or the shooting environment is not good, the video will be much less attractive, not worthing (sic) to be recommended to new users,” the document said.

The new revelations follow similar accusations of censorship on the app, including reports in September 2019 that TikTok censored LGBTQ+ content in some countries and limited political speech. Not a great look, TikTok.

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