‘Canceled’ Special Report: TikTok’s Inconsistent Censorship

by Paige Werden ‘21

Tiktok, the most popular social media platform today has encountered numerous complaints from their users regarding their inconsistent censorship on public posts. While it is understood that the app’s large following makes it difficult for their team to filter videos, photos, and statements, Tiktok needs to refine its censorship policies by differentiating between the videos that should or should not have sensitivity warnings. 

Claire Miller, a former active creator on TikTok was recently banned from the app after being convicted of killing her disabled sister who had been featured in many of her TikTok videos. Though the account was banned and taken down after numerous users reported disturbing videos, content from Miller’s old profile can be found on different accounts. On two of the accounts, another video can be found which allegedly was posted after the murder of her sister showing blood on stuffed animals and, blood in the snow, and a bloody glove. In late February, all accounts reposting the videos were taken down but TikTok has yet to remove 3 profiles currently posting videos. The accounts have been up for weeks and TikTok has yet to do anything about the problem. TikTok needs to keep their word and make sure all content they deem disturbing to be taken down or have a warning placed upon. 

In recent posts on TikTok, there have been inconsistent sensitivity warnings set on a multitude of videos. For most posts that promote racism, violence, and hate, TikTok will place a warning at the beginning of each video that will ask the viewer if they would like to continue watching. In a video posted by the user @1_in_six, a warning has been set because the man in the video educationally talks about rape and how some may feel shameful. The man himself has put a warning in the caption and strictly uses the video as awareness for others who have gone through a similar battle. While rape may be a trigger for some, many videos are used as a way to raise awareness and bring positivity to those who have experienced a similar situation. By putting a warning that will likely stray many from watching a video that may be helpful, some of these people’s voices may be silenced. The sensitive content warning does not state whether the content is about rape, gore, racism, robbery, or violence to the viewer.

In a video posted yesterday by @mrs.pennywise_, a man with fake blood on his legs can be seen in the background. Since TikTok states that promoting violence and any gore will have sensitivity warnings placed on the video, there should be a warning like many other videos such as these to be placed at the beginning. 

In another video posted by @curtiswhan, a sensitive content warning was also placed at the beginning. Though this video only shows a montage of a man drinking alcohol and having fun with his friends, TikTok deemed this content to be disturbing. This does not fall under TikTok’s guidelines and is very inconsistent when compared to other videos relating to alcohol. There are many channels on TikTok promoting alcohol use and partying but those accounts and videos are not monetized. This type of content differs greatly from most of the content that is censored on the app. If TikTok wants to keep this censorship policy afloat, they must remain consistent and censor videos that are equally as disturbing. 

To fix this issue, TikTok should create a way to sort the content that viewers prefer to watch. Since the content warnings are placed on such a wide range of content, some may personally only find a small aspect of them disturbing, By allowing the user to pick what content they do and do not want to see, the content warning would no longer be needed which will eliminate inefficiency and inconsistency. This would also promote awareness for sexual assault that many do not find disturbing.


Also in “Canceled” Special Report:

Political Parties Have Two Different Standards by Emory Gun ’22

Dangerous Ideas on College Campuses by Seth Kauffman ’21

‘The Bachelor’ Needs Serious Reform by Tori Newby ’22

Deplatform the Villains by Lexi Kimmel ’21

What Does a Word Mean When Used Differently by Everyone? by Graham Skinker ’21

Struggle for Consistency in Sports by Colin Horan ’21

The Problem with Painting Influencers with a Broad Brush by Avery Prudenti ’22

Dr. Seuss Enterprises Discontinues Six Books for ‘Hurtful and Wrong’ Imagery by Naomi Bang ’22