TikTok is suppressing LGBT content in Eastern Europe and the Middle East

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09/08/2020

Try searching for hashtags related to LGBT issues in countries like Russia, Bosnia, and Jordan on TikTok and you might find no results, even if you were able to see it on a friend’s post. That’s because the app is now shadow banning such hashtags, including the word “gay” in languages including Russian (гей), Arabic (الجنس_مثلي), and Bosnian (gej), according to findings in a new report released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI), a think tank. Hashtags like “#transgender” in Arabic (#جنسي المتحول) and #I am a gay/lesbian” in Russian (#ягей/#ялесбиянка) are also suppressed. Shadow banning refers to a way of censorship whereby social media companies reduce the visibility of particular content or even stop content from being seen by other users without the uploader being aware of the ban, as opposed to a blanket ban.

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