TikTok apologized to users after complaints that posts with the hashtags #GeorgeFloyd and #Blacklivesmatter had garnered zero views on the popular short video making app.
Users accused the ByteDance owned app of censoring black voices in the on-going protests witnessed in the US following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
Some TikTo users changed their profile pictures to a raised black fist to symbolize black power, while others urged fellow users to unfollow people who did not support the protests. A popular TikTok creator termed this as ‘the unfair censorship of black creators.’
“We acknowledge and apologize to our Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported, or suppressed,” Vanessa Pappas, TikTok U.S. general manager, and Kudzi Chikumbu, director of creator community, wrote in a blog post.
According to TikTok, the company had not censored any posts but there was a display issue stemming from a technical glitch which had affected a number of hashtags. They said that in reality, the videos with the hashtag #Blacklivesmatter had generated over 2 billion views.
“We understand that many assumed this bug to be an intentional act to suppress the experiences and invalidate the emotions felt by the Black community,” Pappas and Chikumbu wrote. “And we know we have work to do to regain and repair that trust.”
TikTok has said that it is creating a special council which will amplify diverse voices. They also made a $3 million donation to nonprofits that help the black community and another $1 million to groups fighting racial injustice in the US. The company has today shut certain sound features in solidarity with “Black Out Tuesday”, a protest by the Music Industry.
“Words can only go so far. I invite our community to hold us accountable for the actions we take over the coming weeks, months, and years,” said Kevin Mayer, TikTok’s new chief executive officer, in a separate post on TikTok.
TikTok has been accused of censorship before. The company has recently faced backlash over its stance on posts promoting violence and censoring posts related to blacks. They issued another apology just last week before the protests in the US commenced.