Home Technology TikTok used to have guidelines that marginalised “ugly” or “poor” people

TikTok used to have guidelines that marginalised “ugly” or “poor” people

1 min read

I don’t really understand the concept behind TikTok, but nonetheless it’s a social media platform that has definitely skyrocketed in popularity over the past few months. It’s an app that gives many parents the creeps with regards to what their teens get up to with it and even though social media platforms are not exactly the most trusted programs around, TikTok is arguably the lowest common denominator amongst them all.

The Intercept first broke the news of how TikTok directed its moderators to prevent people with “ugly facial looks” or who shot videos in “slums” or “dilapidated housing” from having their posts promoted to its widely viewed “For You” section.

Portions of these discriminatory guidelines have leaked in the past, revealing that TikTok intentionally prevented posts from LGBTQ users and users with disabilities from surfacing in this section. The article has more detail from the leaked documents, showing that they were even asked to ban people who have an “abnormal body shape” such as a “beer belly” or “ugly facial looks” such as “too many wrinkles.”

Yes, it’s essentially pretty derogatory and grossly discriminatory news from a company that is essentially proving to be very successful. While they no doubt deserve a lot of their success, there is a reason for many to have concerns about the company. Apart from the obvious privacy and security concerns, there are also reports that have surfaced of how the company looked to prevent the promotion of people deemed ugly or poor.

Now admittedly TikTok has reportedly changed their moderation policies around this and have indicated that it was more an attempt to stop bullying rather than marginalise and prejudice users, as revealed to The Verge. Still, it’s hard to imagine how they could ever think this sort of moderation was ever a good idea and they should’ve rather focused on the people doing the bullying in the comments sectio itself rather than trying to prevent a certain image fronting their platform.

I wasn’t convinced that TikTok was ever a good idea, now even less so.

Last Updated: March 18, 2020


  1. MaSeKind

    March 18, 2020 at 13:33

    I made the mistake of looking at one of those TikTok videos on Instagram. Now all I see are those weird teen reaction videos. Or rather not reaction, just general everyday things. Like these people are amazed that other people also experience things.

    But yeah I’ve noticed how it’s all beautiful attractive people. But it’s just an extension of Instagram. You rarely see an average or below looking person. Unless the focus is on an animal and they are barely visible in the background. And you can tell these people aren’t poor either. I guess poor people actually have worries in live and don’t have time for online vanity projects


  2. HvR

    March 18, 2020 at 13:59

    Pretty much all the social platforms do that though either directly or indirectly. YT might be one exception though due to the longer content format.


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