TikTok LGBTQ hashtags shadowbanned in Bosnia, Jordan, Russia

Occurred: September 2020

TikTok admitted it censored LGBTQ hashtags in Bosnia, Jordan, and Russia, after being accused of doing so by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) think-tank.

Shadow banning involves limiting the discovery of content without communicating that a specific hashtag is on a ban list. 

According to TikTok, some hashtags were restricted to comply with local laws, others were limited as they were often used to discover pornographic content, whilst some English and Arabic phrases were banned by mistake.

The episode raised questions about TikTok's approach to censorship and concerns about the transparency of its decision-making.

Operator: ByteDance/TikTok  
Developer: ByteDance/TikTok  
Country: Bosnia; Jordan; Russia
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts
Purpose: Block/reduce user/content visibility
Technology: Recommendation algorithm
Issue: Freedom of expression - censorship
Transparency: Governance

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