How TikTok is Keeping its Community Harm-Free and Positive
“We recognize the perhaps insurmountable challenge to completely eliminate hate on TikTok – but that won’t stop us from trying.” — Eric Han, Head of Safety, TikTok
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In recent months TikTok has spearheaded a broad effort to instill an image of itself as a place of pure positivity and inspiration — one deeply rooted in American culture and users can express themselves in a toxic-free environment. More specifically, TikTok articulated its stance on hate speech and eliminating hate and dropped an ad campaign depicting the impact of its community.
Countering the spread of hate
“In what can feel like an increasingly divisive world, one of the areas we’re especially intent on improving is our policies and actions towards hateful content and behavior. Our goal is to eliminate hate on TikTok,” shared TikTok’s Head of Safety, Eric Han in a recent blog post.
In the update, the platform shared that since the beginning of 2020, it has removed over 380,000 videos violating its hate speech policy. In addition, TikTok banned more than 1,300 accounts for hateful content or behavior and removed 64,000 offensive pieces of content from the app. While the company admits these stats don’t reflect a perfect success rate — taking responsibility is an important action needed for long-term success. During a time when relationships are heavily reliant on smartphones and other devices, urging authenticity and embracing digital empathy has never been more critical for a platform’s survival. For TikTok, this is especially true as its fate in the U.S. remains unclear.
So how exactly does TikTok help prevent the spread of hateful content? Primarily it employs a strict zero-tolerance stance on “organized hate groups and those associated with them,” including accounts associated with white supremacy or nationalism, male supremacy, antisemitism, and other hate-based ideologies. To regulate this, the platform uses a variety of methods including re-directing people who search for offensive material to its guidelines and rules. The motive behind this is plain and simple — education around how to think before we post online and hone our digital empathy skills.
Enhancing cultural awareness and transparency
TikTok also notes that its evolving its policies in line with regional and inter-community usage. An ongoing learning curve for its Safety team, TikTok understands that not all slurs are used in a negative context. Conversely, they can be used as a term of empowerment. In this way, the platform is looking to improve how it defines this line and the distinctions that enable it to decipher when it has been crossed or not. In short, the app is looking to better read the room as its community continues to grow and identify new ways it can support a safe, respectful and diverse environment for all of its users.
Incorporating the evolution of expression into its policies does not stop with its own moderation teams, however. To effectively grasp nuanced content like cultural appropriation and slurs, TikTok is turning to experts within its broader Content Advisory Council and external civil society organizations.
“Our platform is the daily destination for millions of people to express themselves creatively, enjoy entertaining content, and engage with a diverse global community that transcends borders.” With this in mind, TikTok launched an information hub and dedicated Twitter account, @tiktok_comms, to ‘serve as a source of truth’ is counter to the various rumors around the app and deliver updates about the company in real-time.
“A ubiquitous part of American life”
TikTok may be a household name for its personal and quirky videos, but the platform is using this unprecedented time in our industry to remind everyone that these single moments of authentic creativity can cascade into much more.
Countering some of the negative perceptions and events surrounding the app as of late, TikTok released a new ad campaign designed to depict its community’s power in spreading positivity. Specifically, by spreading joy and bringing people together, while also launching careers, driving support for causes and educating the masses.
“We’re only halfway through the year, but the impact of the TikTok community on every facet of culture – arts, food, beauty, fashion, film – is undeniable….We’re celebrating you, our TikTok community, for making TikTok a ubiquitous part of everyday American life,” the platform said of the campaign.
From launching the D’Amelio sisters’ careers to reimagining learning with snackable science TikToks posted by Bill Nye himself to The Weeknd rallying more than two million users for a virtual concert benefiting the Equal Justice Initiative, it’s more clear than ever that one trend inspires another and there is true power in sharing our stories, talents, and passions.
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