On February 8, social media giant TikTok announced it is banning anti-LGBTQ+ content from its platform.
Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s head of trust and safety, announced it will remove such content and make it ineligible to appear in users’ For You pages. The goal is to limit “hateful ideologies” against the LGBTQ+ community by banning deadnaming, misgendering and the promotion of conversion therapy programs.
The move was prompted by an open letter penned by advocacy group UltraViolet and signed by over 75 groups in November 2021, according to GLAAD. The letter called social media platforms to implement policies to protect women, people of color and the LGBTQ+ community.
“TikTok has become a little safer for women, LGB[T]Q and trans people today,” Bridget Todd, communications director at UltraViolet, said in a press release. “We applaud TikTok for responding effectively to our recommendations and implementing them into an updated, more protective user policy. Even so, it’s clear social media platforms have a long way to go across the board.”
It isn’t TikTok’s first time pledging to make its platform safer for LGBTQ+ users. In October 2021, the app banned content promoting conversion therapy after it reportedly shadowbanned several LGBTQ+ hashtags, according to a report by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) think tank. Over the past year, TikTok has faced criticism for leading users via a rabbit hole of anti-LGBTQ+ content via their For You page.
“When anti-transgender actions like misgendering or deadnaming, or the promotion of so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ occur on platforms like TikTok, they create an unsafe environment for LGBTQ people online and too often lead to real world harm,” Sarah Kate Ellis, the president and CEO of GLAAD, said in a statement.
In fact, 2022 is already setting a record when it comes to state legislation targeting members of the LGBTQ+ community. So far, 150 anti-LGBTQ bills have been proposed, according to the legislative tracker Freedom for All Americans. Not only that, a survey conducted by the Anti-Defamation League found that 64 percent of LGBTQ+ respondents experience online hate and harassment. 2021 was also reportedly the deadliest year on record for the transgender community.