After accessing The Guardian to some TikTok documents that detailed what should be moderated on the platform, according to the Chinese Government and even outside its borders, now the British newspaper reveals that the social network is eliminating LGTBIQ content of all kinds, even in countries where homosexuality is not prohibited or prosecuted criminally.
These rules of moderation have priority to the political censorship on the independence of Tibet, the protests of Hong Kong or the events of Tiananmen Square, although according to the company it is now regulated locally, as we will see. The news speaks of different moderation guides and guidelines, depending on in which countries it will be applied. For example, there is a set of rules for morally speaking conservative countries, where naked or half-naked body parts such as the buttocks are removed or when more than one third of the neckline is shown. Even descriptions or contents related to compresses are prohibited.
This is how local moderation and the LGTBIQ censorship rules section works
According to ByteDance, the company that owns TikTok, global moderation guides were replaced in May by other moderation guides located according to territories. This explains the censorship in Turkey, for example, where the content related to Kurdish separatism, with alcohol is eliminated (although 17% of the population drinks), or content that criticizes President Erdoğan, added to the list of sensitive people like Gandhi, Trump, Obama or Putin.
The Guardian mentions that with respect to moderation guides, TikTok goes beyond what the law requires, and hence the hardness with LGTBIQ content. Not only are explicit contents prohibited where relationships are observed (giving a hand, a kiss, sexual relations), but messages in favor of homosexual rights and the collective in general are not tolerated, which includes songs, news, photos, etc.
Another important issue is that within TikTok’s rules it was not to remove content with sexy clothes or seductive dances when the person seemed of age, that is, assume that, when in doubt, he was older. The company, according to The Guardian, has not denied that the policy existed, but has mentioned that it now asks moderators to treat people as minors if there are doubts.
Overall, TikTok has explained this about “moderation”: “Our platform has experienced rapid growth in Turkey and other markets and, as we grow, we constantly learn and refine our approach to moderation. The guidelines referenced with respect to LGBTQ content in Turkey is no longer used, and since then we have made significant progress in establishing a stronger localized approach, however, we recognize the need to do more and are actively working with local third parties and independent consultants to ensure that our processes are appropriate.”
From Revyuh Media we have contacted TikTok to learn how moderation works here and if issues such as LGTBIQ rights are sensitive. We will update the news as soon as we have an answer.