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TikTok lays out plans to clamp down on hate speech

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A young girl uses the TikTok app on a smartphone (Peter Byrne/PA)

TikTok is tightening its enforcement policies around hateful content by pledging to strengthen its action against coded language linked to hate speech.

The social media platform said it was working with academics and experts from around the world to increase its understanding of coded references to ideologies like white supremacy in order to stem their spread.

The video-sharing app also announced new efforts to increase its cultural awareness in its content moderation, which will see the app’s moderators attempt to better understand the context of phrases and whether it is being used as a slur or part of a reclamation of the phrase as a term of empowerment.

In a blog post announcing the updated approach, TikTok said it regularly assessed its enforcement processes to “ensure that we are supporting our community and protecting against new risks as they emerge”.

“As part of our efforts to prevent hateful ideologies from taking root, we will stem the spread of coded language and symbols that can normalise hateful speech and behaviour,” the company said.

“While our trust & safety teams already work to remove hate speech and hateful ideologies, such as neo-Nazism and white supremacy, we are strengthening our enforcement action to remove neighbouring ideologies, such as white nationalism, white genocide theory, as well as statements that have their origin in these ideologies, and movements such as Identitarianism and male supremacy.”

The social media site said it would also take additional steps to stop the spread of anti-Semitic content as well as other “misinformation and hurtful stereotypes” about different groups.

“As many monitoring organisations are reporting that anti-Semitic sentiment is increasing in the world, we’re proud that we have already taken steps to keep our community safe, for example by not permitting content that denies the Holocaust and other violent tragedies,” TikTok said.

“We know there’s always more we can do, which is why we are taking further action to remove misinformation and hurtful stereotypes about Jewish, Muslim and other communities.

“This includes misinformation about notable Jewish individuals and families who are used as proxies to spread anti-Semitism. We’re also 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+.”

The app said the updates were the next steps towards an end goal to “eliminate hate on TikTok”.

“Although this might seem like a tall mountain to climb, we’re ready for the challenge,” the firm said.

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