Misgendering, Deadnaming Banned
Social media mega TikTok banned multiple forms of anti-LGBTQ hate speech and content from the platform this week in an effort to make it “a safe, secure and welcoming environment.”
Cormac Keenan, Tikok's head of trust and safety, made the announcement in a blog post Tuesday, stating that misgendering and deadnaming users are “prohibited on our platform.” Keenan also stated that content promoting conversion therapy and misogyny is also banned as the video platform provided more clarity on its content moderation policies.
“Though these ideologies have long been prohibited on TikTok, we've heard from creators and civil society organizations that it's important to be explicit in our community guidelines,” Keenan said. He went on to highlight the recent addition of a feature that allows users to list their pronouns on their account as something he hopes “will encourage respectful and inclusive dialogue on our platform.”
Fostering Safety And Inclusion
The changes came as part of a wider revision of TikTok's community guidelines aimed at addressing multiple issues present in content on the platform. In addition to addressing anti-LGBTQ content, Keenan also addressed changes how the company will moderate “suicide hoax” videos and content that promotes disordered eating and overexercise.
“Our policies are designed to foster an experience that prioritizes safety, inclusion and authenticity,” Keenan said. Content that violates these updated standards will be removed from the platform or be disqualified from being recommended in the app's For You feed, which refers popular content to users when they open the app.
“While the ability to discover new ideas, creators and interests is part of what makes our platform unique, content in someone's For You feed may come from a creator they haven't chosen to follow or relate to an interest they haven't previously engaged with,” Keenan said. “Our community guidelines apply to everyone and all content on TikTok, and we strive to be consistent and equitable in our enforcement.”
The updates come after pressure from LGBTQ advocacy groups GLAAD and UltraViolet to make social media platforms safer for LGBTQ users and users from other underrepresented populations. GLAAD's Social Media Safety Index deemed every major social media platform “unsafe for LGBTQ users.” It specifically highlighted a lack of transparency in TikTok's community guidelines and the platform's history of shadow banning LGBTQ content, effectively censoring LGBTQ topics and deplatforming LGBTQ creators.
“When anti-transgender actions like misgendering or deadnaming, or the promotion of so-called ‘conversion therapy,' occur on platforms like TikTok, they create an unsafe environment for LGBTQ people online and too often lead to real world harm,” Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, said. “TikTok's move to expressly prohibit this harmful content in its community guidelines and to adopt recommendations made in GLAAD's 2021 Social Media Safety Index raises the standard for LGBTQ safety online and sends a message that other platforms which claim to prioritize LGBTQ safety should follow suit with substantive actions like these.”
TikTok's revised policy falls in line with its pattern or being more progressive and inclusive than similar guidelines for other social media hubs. But, as Input's Matt Wille points out, enforcing bans on misgendering and deadnaming may prove more difficult than other violations. “Deadnaming and misgendering are far more complex concepts,” Wille writes. “Both require knowledge of a person's gender identity — deadnaming requires knowledge of a person's deadname. These aren't exactly quick and fast variables that can be plugged into an algorithm.”
“Human moderation tends to be the only somewhat successful method of removing these instances from TikTok,” Wille continues. “In many cases, that will require users to report those instances themselves, which puts a significant burden on the user who is being deadnamed or misgendered.”
TikTok Ban: Previously on Towleroad
Image courtesy of TikTok/ByteDance