Lingerie brand Adore Me is accusing TikTok of purposefully removing videos featuring BIPOC, plus-size, and disabled models.
“The app’s algorithm was openly built with discrimination at its core,” Adore Me tweeted late last week. It went on to comment on TikTok’s history of problematic content moderation, and shared examples of videos that TikTok has removed from its page, including one clip where a Black woman scrolls through its products.
A virtually identical video featuring a white woman was not removed, the brand said:
This last removal particularly infuriated our team—as THIS video, by contrast, was allowed to stay up. pic.twitter.com/buIRIQxy1Q
— Adore Me (@AdoreMe) February 4, 2021
Adore Me clarified that “as a lingerie company, we understand that our products and marketing can push the boundaries of what’s allowed on social media platforms.” But it has years of experience advertising items on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and Pinterest, and “TikTok is a different story,” it said.
The company told USA Today that when the content removals started, it automatically assumed TikTok was “being more stringent about skin versus other platforms.” It got in contact with TikTok, but the platform didn’t restore the removed videos–and as more content disappeared, Adore Me believed it saw a pattern.
“Adore Me has a large engineering team that has developed advanced recommendation algorithms for our shopping services,” Ranjan Roy, Adore Me’s VP of strategy, told USA Today. That team looked at what was happening on TikTok, and “it was quickly made clear that the consistency meant something was programmed into the algorithm versus it being random,” Roy said.
TikTok spokesperson Jamie Favazza told the outlet that TikTok “does not moderate on the basis of shape, size, or ability, and we continually take steps to strengthen our policies and promote body acceptance.”
Favazza also pointed out TikTok’s recent policy changes around ads related to weight loss.
After Adore Me posted its Twitter thread, it received notice from TikTok that three videos had been “removed in error” and subsequently restored, per USA Today.
“For us, TikTok saying these were ‘removed in error’ after some have been down for months, while still not providing a clear explanation of how they have fixed the algorithmic problems outlined last March, is not remotely sufficient,” Roy said.
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