Establishing a sensible, coherent approach to content moderation on the web was always going to be tough. But it’s an altogether different proposition when you factor in TikTok.
This hit home after reading recent scoops from the Guardian’s Alex Hern. If you didn’t catch it, the Chinese-owned social network routinely downranks and deletes videos featuring political content, such as Tiananmen Square
, and pro-LGBT content
, even in countries where being gay is not illegal (eg Turkey). It’s essentially applying Chinese standards globally.
TikTok insisted in a statement that it retired these guidelines in May (perhaps on the advice of its newly in post Director of Global Public Policy
) but it is anyone’s guess what rules are being applied to content on the platform in any given country.
The company, headquartered in Beijing, also does not have a good record of being particularly transparent or of responding to criticism well (see the case of YouTuber PaymoneyWubby
). That’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
And so, just as one social media giant starts to open itself up
to scrutiny, another one emerges with politicised policies and opaque processes but with no news media to hold it account or force it to change.
When it comes to TikTok, it’s hard to be hopeful.