TikTok Sparks Outrage For Censoring ‘Intersex’ Hashtag, Blames ‘Mistake’
PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 05: In this photo illustration, the social media application logo, Tik Tok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on March 05, 2019 in Paris, France. The social network broke the rules for the protection of children's online privacy (COPPA) and was fined $ 5.7 million. The fact TikTok criticized is quite serious in the United States, the platform, which currently has more than 500 million users worldwide, collected data that should not have asked minors. TikTok, also known as Douyin in China, is a media app for creating and sharing short videos. Owned by ByteDance, Tik Tok is a leading video platform in Asia, United States, and other parts of the world. In 2018, the application gained popularity and became the most downloaded app in the U.S. in October 2018.
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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.

Not only does it appear that TikTok is censoring certain content, it was also reported earlier this week that the Chinese social media platform “released their new privacy policy informing users that the app may collect new forms of biometric data, such as ‘faceprints and voiceprints,’ but the company has reportedly been ‘unable to explain what types of data these terms referred to, or why the app might need to access this information in the first place.’”

“We may collect information about the images and audio that are a part of your User Content, such as identifying the objects and scenery that appear, the existence and location within an image of face and body features and attributes, the nature of the audio, and the text of the words spoken in your User Content,” TikTok announced in the “Image and Audio Information” section of their new privacy policy, as reported by The Daily Wire. “We may collect this information to enable special video effects, for content moderation, for demographic classification, for content and ad recommendations, and for other non-personally-identifying operations. We may collect biometric identifiers and biometric information as defined under US laws, such as faceprints and voiceprints, from your User Content. Where required by law, we will seek any required permissions from you prior to any such collection.”

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