TikTok attempted to explain away its latest apparent attempt to censor content regarding the LGBTQ+ community, describing its repeated removal of the “#intersex” hashtag as a “mistake.”
“Pidgeon Pagonis, an intersex activist, noticed last week that the #intersex hashtag wasn’t working on TikTok. They couldn’t click the tag on one of their own posts and trying to search for intersex pulled up a ‘null’ page,” reported The Verge. “This was the second time Pagonis noticed the tag disappearing, and they worried that TikTok had banned it just as they were about to start a series of celebratory videos called Intersex Joy.”
According to this TikTok user and The Verge, this form of censorship “follows the historical mistreatment of intersex people.”
“My community is erased with a scalpel, and with words and linguistics, but this time they’re literally erasing the word,” said Pagonis.
According to The Verge, TikTok claimed that “in both of the instances Pagonis noticed, the tag had been removed by mistake and was subsequently restored.”
TikTok’s latest actions come in a long line of similar controversial decisions. In September 2020, Dazed reported that TikTok had previously “banned pro-LGBTQ+ content” and that they had “admitted that it restricted several LGBTQ+ hashtags, including ‘gay,’ ‘lesbian,’ and ‘transgender.’”
As the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) found, “TikTok shadow banned the hashtags in languages including Russian, Estonia, Bosnian, and Arabic, with global users affected no matter what country they live in.”
The Intercept also reported in March 2020 that TikTok was directing its moderators “to suppress posts created by users deemed too ugly, poor, or disabled for the platform, according to internal documents.”
“These same documents show moderators were also told to censor political speech in TikTok livestreams, punishing those who harmed ‘national honor’ or broadcast streams about ‘state organs such as police’ with bans from the platform,” added The Intercept.