The bow popular Chinese app TikTok has conceded that some videos that were made by disabled users and were placed on the platform were intentionally not allowed to go viral by the moderators of the app.
While sating that that approach by the company to not allow such videos to go viral was prevent or reduce the amount of cyber-bullying on its platform, the company has now acknowledging that the decision and the approach to was flawed.
The German digital rights news site Netzpolitik had exposed the measure. The approach was described as “bizarre” by disability rights campaigners.
According to reports, the company had written rules for the moderators which they were expected to follow. One such direction was quoted in the reports which read that such users were “susceptible to bullying or harassment based on their physical or mental condition”.
The moderators were told to limit viewership of affected users’ videos to the country where they were uploaded, claimed the report by Netzpolitik quoting an unnamed TikTok source. The report further claimed that moderators were directed to prevent those clips which were judged by the company to be made by users who were particularly vulnerable, form cropping up on the main video feed of the app after they had reached between 6,000 to 10,000 views on the platform.
The Netzpolitik also highlighted a message on the platform that read: “This video feed is auto-generated and personalized for each member. It accounts for where most people spend their time watching others’ content.” The report, referring to this message on the platform, said that this was potentially because the Chinese app company had further pursued this policy for the disabled “instead of policing the perpetrators”.
The wrong doing was accepted by a spokesman for TikTok. “Early on, in response to an increase in bullying on the app, we implemented a blunt and temporary policy,” said the spokesperson to the media.
“This was never designed to be a long-term solution, and while the intention was good, it became clear that the approach was wrong. We have long since removed the policy in favor of more nuanced anti-bullying policies.”
While Netzpolitik reported that the pol;icy was in force even in September, the app company did not mentioned anything about when it had discontinued the practice.
This measure by the company has been condemned by a host of organizations.
“It’s good that TikTok has ended this bizarre policy,” Ceri Smith from the disability equality charity Scope said. “Social media platforms must do more to tackle cyber-bullying, but hastily hiding away a group of users under the guise of protecting them is not the right approach at all.”
It hoped valuable lessons had been learned, said Anti-bullying charity Ditch the Label. “It is concerning that young people with disabilities have been actively excluded from participating on a platform that prides itself as being fun and inclusive,” said chief executive Liam Hackett.
“This approach is discriminatory and further demonises disability, which we already know attracts a huge amount of abuse and intolerance.”
(Adapted from BBC.com)