TikTok is taking new steps to protect the LGBTQ community and women from harassment and hate speech.
The widely used short-form video app, which has more than 1 billion monthly users, on Tuesday announced updates to its Community Guidelines to expressly prohibit misgendering, deadnaming and misogyny, as well as ban any content that supports or promotes so-called “conversion therapy” programs on the platform. (“Deadnaming” is the act of using the name that a transgender person was given at birth and no longer uses.)
“Though these ideologies have long been prohibited on TikTok, we’ve heard from creators and civil society organizations that it’s important to be explicit in our Community Guidelines,” Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of trust and safety, wrote in a blog post about the changes. “On top of this, we hope our recent feature enabling people to add their pronouns will encourage respectful and inclusive dialogue on our platform.”
The changes come as TikTok — along with other social media apps — have been a continual target of critics who argue that internet companies do not do an adequate job of protecting users from hate speech and harassment.
Advocacy organization GLAAD applauded TikTok’s updated guidelines. “When anti-transgender actions like misgendering or deadnaming, or the promotion of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ occur on platforms like TikTok, they create an unsafe environment for LGBTQ people online and too often lead to real world harm,” GLAAD president and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis said in a statement.
Ellis continued, “TikTok’s move to expressly prohibit this harmful content in its Community Guidelines and to adopt recommendations made in GLAAD’s 2021 Social Media Safety Index raises the standard for LGBTQ safety online and sends a message that other platforms which claim to prioritize LGBTQ safety should follow suit with substantive actions like these.”
According to GLAAD, Twitter is the only other major platform whose policies explicitly prohibit misgendering and deadnaming. Last year, GLAAD and 19 other organizations united to call on YouTube to create a policy that explicitly bans creators from intentionally misgendering and deadnaming trans people as part of YouTube’s existing hate speech and harassment policies.
TikTok also announced other updates to its Community Guidelines:
- In an effort to prevent suicide hoaxes from spreading on the platform, TikTok will highlight such content in a separate policy category with more detail; previously, that sat within its suicide and self-harm policies.
- TikTok will specifically remove content that promotes disordered eating, in an expansion of it policy covering eating disorders.
- TikTok will explicitly prohibit unauthorized access to content, accounts, systems and data, and is spelling out that app users are prohibited from using TikTok to “perpetrate criminal activity.” This year, the company plans to open new incident-monitoring and investigative response centers in Washington, D.C., Dublin and Singapore.