TikTok promises to curb hate speech and racist content

Who'd have predicted a viral video network accused of being a Chinese spy toy would take a stronger stance on discrimination than Facebook or the President?

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While Facebook pledges to return to its trademark, toxic free-for-all within hours of the most consequential election in modern American history, and Twitter accidentally suspends climate activists' accounts for weeks at a time, TikTok seems to be pursuing some actual, effective changes on its platform. In a statement released earlier today, the company pledged to increase its monitoring and removal of racist, sexist, and other hate-driven content posted by users.

Expanding its definition of hate— The announcement comes as social media companies continue to face a deluge of toxic misinformation and recruiting methods for identitarian, nationalist, and white supremacist organizations. "As part of our efforts to prevent hateful ideologies from taking root, we will stem the spread of coded language and symbols that can normalize hateful speech and behavior," TikTok explained in a blog post.

Company reps went on to detail that, while TikTok's "Trust & Safety" teams have long worked to remove hate speech including neo-Nazi and white supremacist sentiments, they are expanding their parameters to include, "neighboring ideologies, such as white nationalism, white genocide theory, as well as statements that have their origin in these ideologies, and movements such as Identitarianism and male supremacy." Holocaust denialism, anti-LGBTQ+ language (including advocating conversion therapy) and Islamophobic posts are also among the subjects to be more carefully monitored.

Taking nuance into account, as well— What's particularly encouraging is the news that TikTok intends to better train enforcement teams to understand and recognize "nuanced content like cultural appropriation and slurs," so that members of disenfranchised groups can use terms of empowerment without getting mistakenly punished for it. "As we've said before, our end goal is to eliminate hate on TikTok, and although this might seems like a tall mountain to climb, we're ready for the challenge," the statement adds.

Hopefully, the app will stick around stateside long enough for users to begin seeing these new enforcements implemented by the company. After a dizzying back-and-forth between the Trump administration and TikTok's Chinese parent corporation, ByteDance, the app remains available within the U.S., despite the President's messy attempt at a Big Tech-curbing power move.

It's unclear whether or not the ridiculous standoff will continue or transform into something even dumber, but for now, it's good to see the company doing more to address our screwed-up society than our actual government is.