Advocacy teams inform TikTok to take ‘substantive motion’ in opposition to hate speech, extremism

A coalition of technology and human rights groups is calling on TikTok to crack down on the spread of hate speech and extremism after a recent report detailed the reach of such content on the platform.

More than a dozen groups signed a letter to top TikTok executives on Monday urging the platform to take “substantial action” against hate speech and extremism content in the video-sharing app.

“We have seen countless examples of online hatred translated into offline violence, both in the United States and around the world, often with fatal consequences. Because of this dangerous reality, TikTok has a responsibility to fill gaps in your content moderation guidelines and to increase transparency for the public and researchers at large. For some populations around the world this is a matter of life and death, ”the groups wrote, according to a copy of the letter communicated to The Hill.

The ISD report is based on three months of research on a sample of 1,030 videos from 491 accounts posted on TikTok. To conduct the investigation, ISD compiled a list of 157 keywords associated with extremist individuals, groups, ideologies, and related incidents or events. After determining that such accounts tend to follow or are approved by other accounts with shared ideological interests, ISD uses a “snowball method” to expand the sample.

The researchers identified 312 videos, 30 percent of the total sample examined, that promote white supremacy. They also reported 246 videos – 24 percent of the sample – showing support for an extremist or terrorist person or organization.

Some of the content identified in the report was removed prior to publication, and the remaining infringing content was also removed, according to TikTok.

“TikTok categorically prohibits violent extremism and hateful behavior, and our dedicated team will remove such content as it violates our guidelines and undermines the creative and joyful experience people have come to expect on our platform. We value our collaboration with ISD and others whose critical research on industry-wide challenges helps strengthen our policy enforcement to keep our platform safe and welcoming, ”a TikTok spokesperson said in a statement.

UltraViolet, which led the letter, and the 18 other signatories urged TikTok to include recommendations from the ISD report.

Recommendations they support include: improved content moderation and enforcement of existing policies to remove terrorist content, as well as addressing content moderation language gaps that create loopholes for malicious actors.

“These, along with broader demands for transparency and data access that increase accountability, are vital for TikTok to contain the dangerous content circulating on its platform. We urge you to respond quickly to any of these recommendations, ”the groups wrote.

The signatories, which include the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, underscored their urge for TikTok to crack down on the app’s popularity among teenagers and pre-teens.

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