TikTok Favors Amazon Content, Report Reveals

TikTok Favors Amazon Content, Report Reveals

News by Roberto Orosa
Published: December 19, 2023

TikTok staff were allegedly instructed not to take action against more than 60 Amazon-related accounts on the platform, according to internal communications obtained by The Guardian.

The messages exchanged through TikTok's internal messaging system known as Lark, advised moderators in the autumn not to apply sanctions, such as tagging or removing content, from the specified Amazon accounts.

Furthermore, exchanges in Lark emphasized the importance of protecting TikTok's relationship with Amazon, with the latter being the platform's most valuable ad spender.

According to the news portal, the instructions were given by a team lead responsible for managing moderators and were exchanged in the presence of a site lead, a senior staff member overseeing the entire site.

The Guardian's investigation into TikTok's moderation practices uncovered instances where some moderators were allegedly advised to give preferential treatment to specific creators and accounts, departing from the platform's official guidelines.

TikTok Denies Allegations

The Chinese-owned social media app has denied these claims surrounding its flagging policies, with a spokesperson saying that "these allegations about TikTok’s policies are wrong or based on misunderstandings, while the Guardian has not given us enough information about their other claims to investigate. Our community guidelines apply equally to all content on TikTok."

However, internal communications obtained by The Guardian suggest otherwise.

While the company insisted that its community guidelines apply uniformly to all content creators, The Guardian's investigation revealed the existence of an undisclosed list of other companies allegedly receiving similar preferential treatment.

This has raised concerns about the transparency and fairness of TikTok's content moderation policies, with Amazon, consistently the largest spender on digital advertising in the US with an outlay of $1.4 billion in 2022, at the center of this controversy.

As the investigation unfolds, questions are being raised about the potential impact of preferential treatment on public discourse and the need for greater transparency in content moderation practices on popular social media platforms like TikTok. 

Russell Brand Among Creators Receiving Special Treatment

TikTok has granted special status to certain high-profile accounts, encouraging European moderators to adopt a more lenient approach toward content posted by individuals like Russell Brand, The Guardian's investigation revealed.

The messages suggest the existence of a user hierarchy, with designated tags such as "super account," "Top PGC," and "top creator" affording certain users more flexibility.

TikTok reportedly permits the promotion of a platform managed by the influencer Andrew Tate, known for misogynistic content, despite his ban on the platform for promoting hateful ideology, as specified in an internal list.

Despite TikTok's denial of such policies being official, internal communications reveal moderators being advised to treat tagged accounts more leniently, raising questions about adherence to the platform's guidelines.

Based on the report, the platform is known to permit the promotion of a platform managed by the influencer Andrew Tate, known for misogynistic content, despite his ban on the platform for promoting hateful ideology, as specified in an internal list.

The recent revelation follows previous reports of TikTok's two-tiered moderation system, indicating preferential treatment for influencers and celebrities. 

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