by Leander Milbrecht
The Chinese social media and video platform TikTok seems to be a prime example of censorship. TikTok had already recently been criticised for censoring information on the protests in Hong Kong. Thus creating a distorted picture of events and influencing public opinion. It has now become known that the company is also blocking content that shows, advertises or promotes homosexuality.
“The Guardian” newspaper has two collections of specific guidelines that the platform’s moderators have to respect before the general ones. The general guidelines already prohibit politically controversial content – but the local and country-specific guidelines go even further.
According to The Guardian, the local policy collection, which is internally referred to as “to be applied strictly”, is particularly targeted at conservative countries. The second set of guidelines contains additional information on specific countries. For Turkey, e. g., it lists politicians who should not be criticised or defamed.
Strict guidelines for homosexual content
The local collection of guidelines contains content that is to be blocked. Such as pictures of women’s bare chests or detailed information about women’s hygiene articles. However, homosexual content accounts for a large portion of banned content.
Moderators are encouraged to block images of homosexual body contact, including kissing and holding hands. The company also seems to have something against so-called “homo propaganda”: it does not only ban content about Pride parades or slogans for equality, but also posts about homosexual celebrities, news or songs. This applies even to countries where homosexuality was or is not illegal.
TikTok is enjoying growing popularity in many countries around the world: in August 2019, the app was number 1 on the download charts with 63 million downloads – ahead of WhatsApp.
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