Tech | July 30, 2020 12:46 pm

Is TikTok Banning Body-Positive Influencers?

Plus-size influencers claim their posts are being taken down, despite not violating TikTok's content policies

tiktok app screen
Body positivity does not seem to be welcome on TikTok.
Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

TikTok doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to promoting body acceptance. Back in March, documents obtained by the Intercept revealed the platform had a policy to suppress content from users deemed “chubby,” “obese,” or otherwise in possession of an “abnormal body shape,” and recent reports suggest dangerous, pro-eating disorder content may also be thriving on the platform.

Now, plus-size and body-positive influencers claim their TikTok content is being flagged as inappropriate and taken down, despite not posting anything that appears to be in obvious violation of the platform’s policies.

Mikayla Zazon, whose body-positive content has attracted more than 720,000 TikTok followers, told the New York Post more than 40 of her posts have been taken down this year. Posts that have been banished from the platform for allegedly violating TikTok’s terms include seemingly innocuous content supporting body acceptance and self love, such as one in which Zazon eats a cookie while wearing a crop top, telling viewers, “You don’t have to deny yourself the foods you love to be healthy … eat the Oreo if you want it.”

Other body-positive and plus-size creators have come forward with similar accusations against the platform, claiming TikTok deemed their videos inappropriate despite posting the same kind of content as their thinner peers, whose posts are left unflagged.

In a test of that theory, Zazon and fellow influencer Gabby Male, who Zazon says has a “smaller” body, posted identical videos. While Male’s was available to view right away, Zazon’s was “under review” for three hours.

“Body type is never a reason for content moderation on our platform,” a spokesperson for TikTok told the Post. “The fact that some in our community feel it might be is a concern we listen to deeply, and we’re committed to continuing to examine our policies and practices as we work to keep TikTok a safe and welcoming place for everyone.”

However, plenty of other plus-size creators on the platform have come forward with similar complaints. Nikki Garza, whose content promotes body acceptance and mocks diet culture, says that her TikTok content is often placed under review or deleted.

“Why do I already have to go through so many hoops and appeal things to post the same exact kind of content my thinner counterparts do?” she asked.

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