Online bullying is a serious problem. But TikTok, the popular video-sharing forum, decided that it would “help” by limiting the reach of, wait for it, the people getting bullied.
The app targeted not only users who are fat, but also LGBTQ people and those with what they identified as intellectual disabilities, including Down Syndrome and Autism. Moderators were instructed to use internal moderation tools to severely limit the ability of videos from these groups to be seen, all without the video creator’s knowledge.
When confronted, TikTok claimed it was “meant to be a short-term solution.” An insider said that it had been going on for a long time, but it doesn’t really matter – it’s not a good solution for half a second. The idea that denying marginalized people a platform is a solution to bullying is trying to solve bullying with more bullying. It’s taking a bullied kids lunch money from them and then handing it to their bullies, then claiming that you protected them.
The problem is never marginalized people existing, the problem is always the shame, stigma, bullying, and oppression we face. Each of the groups targeted by TikTok faces these things in different ways, nobody from these groups is helped by being denied the platform that their bullies are being given.
Online bullying is a plague that can be anything from inconvenient to life-threatening for the victims. Those committing these acts are the problem, and stopping them is the solution. If TikTok has the technology to identify which users are more likely to be targeted by bullies, then they can direct their moderators to focus on those accounts to delete and block trolls.
Platforms should work to give marginalized people more representation while doing more to eliminate bullying. TikTok needs to do better.
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