Tiktok likes to present itself as a freewheeling site where users can express their true selves. But users who are ugly, poor, have some kind of disability, or like to espouse politically dicey views might be out of luck, according to an investigation by the Intercept. The site has published two internal documents for moderators who work around the world for the Chinese company. One tells moderators to suppress posts from users with "abnormal body shape," "ugly facial looks," "too many wrinkles," or those who are obese, lack front teeth, and on and on. The same document also seeks to suppress posts from users who live in obviously rundown residences that are "extremely dirty and messy," have wall cracks, etc.
As the Intercept explains, the fear is that such posts will scare off new users and limit the company's explosive growth. Asked for a response, a spokesperson with the company says the restrictions were put in place to protect people from bullying. However, the "documents contain no mention of any anti-bullying rationale, instead explicitly citing an entirely different justification: The need to retain new users and grow the app," per the Intercept. The other document instructs moderators to suppress posts that are political in nature, such as "defamation … towards civil servants, political or religious leaders," for example. (Read the full story.)