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TikTok removing 'content promoting gay conversion therapy'

The app - which has 800 million active users - says it's working to remove all content 'hurtful' to LGBTQs

2020-10-21

(Words: Jamie Tabberer; Picture: Pexels, posed by models)

TikTok has said it is removing anti-LGBTQ content, including content promoting conversion therapy.

The announcement follows a similar move from Instagram in June.

Conversion therapy is a term used to describe a range of dangerous and discredited practises claiming to change someone's sexuality or gender identity - often for monetary gain.

Alex Rawle, policy manager at TikTok, told Attitude: "Everything we do at TikTok is about providing a safe space for people to express their ideas and creativity, no matter who they are. LGBTQ+ creators are a vital part of our community and we're focused on protecting our users from harmful content which could interfere with their ability to have a positive experience.

"We are removing content that is hurtful to the LGBTQ+ community"

"Our Community Guidelines already make clear that hateful content has no place on our platform, and we use a combination of technologies and moderation teams to enforce these guidelines. These measures are the latest step we have taken to improve our policies, and we continue to invest in our enforcement capabilities."

Elsewhere, in a 'Community Guidelines' update, TikTok - which has 800 million active users worldwide - said: "We are removing content that is hurtful to the LGBTQ+ community by removing hateful ideas, including content that promotes conversion therapy and the idea that no one is born LGBTQ+."

In the same update, the company also detailed how it is tackling racist and anti-semitic content.

Elsewhere in the statement, TikTok said: "If a member of a disenfranchised group, such as the LGBTQ+, Black, Jewish, Roma and minority ethnic communities, uses a word as a term of empowerment, we want our enforcement teams to understand the context behind it and not mistakenly take the content down. On the other hand, if a slur is being used hatefully, it doesn't belong on TikTok. Educating our enforcement teams on these crucial distinctions is ongoing work, and we strive to get this right for our community."

"Being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is not something that can or should be ‘cured’"

Josh Bradlow, Policy Manager, Stonewall said: "It’s great to see TikTok stepping up to tackle content on its platform that’s harmful to the LGBT community, including that which promotes conversion therapy.

"All forms of so-called ‘therapy’ that attempt to change a person’s sexual orientation and/or gender identity are unethical and have been condemned by major UK health organisations like the NHS, psychotherapy and counselling bodies. Being lesbian, gay, bi or trans is not something that can or should be ‘cured’.

"The Government’s National LGBT survey found that 2% of LGBT people have undergone conversion therapy, and a further 5% have been offered it. If we want all LGBT people to be safe, then the Government must bring forward an effective ban on these harmful practices now."

Responding to the news, Harry Hitchens, co-founder of the Ban Conversion Therapy campaign, told PoliticsHome they were "cautiously optimistic" about the news, but added: "time and time again, pledges have been made in the public and private sector to limit the reach of so-called ‘conversion therapy’ organisations. We’d now like to see those pledges turn into action."

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