TikTok algorithm prevents user from declaring support for Black Lives Matter
A series of TikTok videos have gone viral with one user censored for trying to put pro-Black Lives Matter phrases in his bio on the platform’s Creator Marketplace.
Ziggi Tyler, a popular Black TikTok creator with over 370,000 subscribers, posted several videos this week showing how he couldn’t include phrases in his bio that included the word “Black” without being immediately flagged for “inappropriate content.” the Creators Market connects popular TikTok users with brands for promotions.
Tyler has tried a number of phrases including those declaring his support for “Black Lives Matter,” “black people,” “black voices” and “black success” and simply stating “I’m a black man” – all of them. this would immediately trigger a pop-up message asking him to “remove any inappropriate content”.
But putting “support white supremacy” or “support white success” in her bio didn’t elicit the same message of inappropriate content. “I’m not a neo-Nazi either.”
Tyler’s videos garnered attention on the platform, with two of them reaching over a million views. His concerns also gained attention on Twitter.
TikTok has since apologized for the incident.
“Our TikTok Creator Marketplace protections, which flag phrases commonly associated with hate speech, have been incorrectly configured to flag phrases without word order. We acknowledge and apologize for the frustration of this experience, and our team corrected this important error, ”a spokesperson for TikTok said in a statement to NBC News. “To be clear, Black Lives Matter does not violate our policies and currently has over 27 billion views on our platform.”
The app mistakenly reported Tyler’s sentences because his hate speech detector was triggered by the combination of the words “black” and “audience”, because the latter contains the word “die”.
The incident is another example of creators of marginalized communities alleging they are being silenced on the platform. Several Jewish creators of TikTok told NBC News in June that their content was routinely removed from the platform for alleged violations of community guidelines and often banned from posting for days.
Tyler’s videos also arrive just weeks after some creators of Black TikTok called a strike in which they refrain from creating a dance to a recently released Megan Thee Stallion song. The strike was undertaken in response to a persistent problem with the platform in which non-black creators are gaining success and notoriety by performing dances created by black creators without giving them credit.
TikTok maintains that it is committed to supporting black designers, citing its recent launch @BlackTikTok account, managed by employees of Black TikTok with the goal of creating a home for black creators on the platform.