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Word filter not transparent: Report: Tiktok suppresses comments unnoticed

Word filter not transparent
Report: Tiktok silently suppresses comments

Tiktok is popular with younger people for its videos. What the young people cannot see, however, is the limited exchange of opinions on the platform. Certain word filters hide some comments without users noticing.

According to a report by Tagesschau.de, the Chinese short video platform Tiktok continues to use questionable word filters to suppress certain comments without the affected users noticing. Among the words that are apparently blocked by Tiktok are “Nazi”, “slaves” and “gas”, but also “LGBTQ” and “gay”, as research by NDR, WDR and the “Tagesschau” revealed. In addition, names for drugs such as cannabis, crack, heroin, cocaine or LSD are suppressed regardless of the context used.

In the test postings from NDR, WDR and the “Tagesschau”, the video platform never once made it clear to users whether and why a comment did not appear. Instead, the app gave the impression that her comments were public. Tiktok users can therefore not be completely sure whether their own comment is also visible to other people. A Tiktok spokeswoman acknowledged that her company uses technology to “proactively” check for comments that violate Tiktok policies or constitute spam behavior.

We also try to prevent users from posting the same comment more than once. In the current case, comments that did not violate the community guidelines were also incorrectly flagged as potentially harmful. “This should not have happened and we will continue to train our automated systems to ensure fair and consistent moderation,” the Tiktok spokeswoman said.

NDR, WDR and “Tagesschau” reported last March that Tiktok users’ posts containing certain words were being suppressed. The terms that were blocked at the time included the words “Auschwitz” and “National Socialism”, which are now apparently no longer blocked across the board.

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