TikTok issues apology for the censorship of LGBT+ content and hashtags

During a British parliamentary subcommittee, a TikTok director apologised for the censorship of LGBT+ hashtags and limiting viewership for certain content.

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TikTok has issued a formal apology for the censorship of LGBT+ content and hashtags on their popular video sharing platform. 

On Tuesday, September 22, TikTok’s director of public policy in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Theo Bertram, admitted that the company removed LGBT+ content when required by local law enforcement agencies. Speaking with a British parliamentary subcommittee, he said, “I’m really sorry, we really got that wrong.”

In certain cases, the viewership reach of queer videos as well as posts from disabled or plus-size users were limited to prevent bullying on the platform. Bertram stated “that was a terrible idea” and the policy has since been changed.

Since its launch, TikTok has gone on to become a leading platform for sharing content and finding entertainment. The LGBT+ community have also relied upon this app to share their experiences with ‘conversion therapy’, coming out, and celebrating diversity. 

A recent report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) detailed the levels of censorship restricting content relating to the LGBT+ community and the Black Lives Matter movement in certain languages. It reads, “TikTok claims that it continues ‘to see the vulnerability of LGBTQ+ rights’, writing in a June 2020 blog post that ‘it’s important to us that the LGBTQ+ voices and stories of those who are pushing forward acceptance for all and helping to create a world where everyone has the right to be who they are and love who they love, are shared, seen and heard.’”

“Our research shows that that commitment isn’t applied consistently across multiple languages,” the report continues. 

Following the report’s release, the company stated certain hashtags were restricted to comply with local laws. During the subcommittee, Bertram further stated, “I think the Russian law is terrible and our community does too. But unfortunately we have to comply with legal requests in the countries that we operate.”

When asked if TikTok was still enacting a censorship on LGBT+ content in some countries, Bertram said, “Not as far as I’m aware, you can create any content on our platform, there is no restrictions.”

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