Illustration for article titled TikTok Apologizes for Claims of Suppressing Black Lives Matter-Centered Videos on Its App
Photo: DENIS CHARLET/AFP (Getty Images)

TikTok, the popular video creation app, apologized for a controversy over the weekend involving the Black Lives Matter movement and those who aim to spread awareness about the senseless murder of George Floyd.

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TikTok users noticed that videos posted with the hashtags #BlackLivesMatter and/or #GeorgeFloyd had zero views, and others noticed that videos featuring these hashtags did not show up. Many took this issue as the app attempting to silence black voices and black causes.

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In a joint blog post found on the app’s website, TikTok’s U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas and director of the app’s creator community Kudzi Chikumbu denied the allegations and said they will work harder to amplify black creators and voices on their app.

“We acknowledge and apologize to our Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported, or suppressed,” they wrote. “We don’t ever want anyone to feel that way. We welcome the voices of the Black community wholeheartedly.”

The issue of low view count was caused by a “technical glitch” in their system, and according to Pappas and Chikumbu, this issue occurred on other site tags as well. They also said that videos on the site with #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd have been viewed over 2 billion times cumulatively, which is “a testament to their importance to and resonance among our community.”

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“Nevertheless, 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,” the statement continues. “And we know we have work to do to regain and repair that trust...We are inspired by our Black creators, artists, and partners who have touched so many people across the country and around the world. Without them, TikTok would not be the joyful and creative community we aspire to be.”

What steps is the app taking to ensure their words are not just face value? Per the statement, they’ll be developing “long-term and ongoing measures” in order to effect change, such as “investing in our technology and moderation strategies to better handle potentially violative content, and designing a clearer, more user-friendly appeals process,” as well as “furthering the efforts of our internal diversity task force and engaging organizations and experts to analyze how our products and policies can better serve people of all backgrounds.” They’re also donating $3 million from their Community Relief Fund to nonprofits aiding the black community.

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Looking for ways to advocate for black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.

Pronounced "Jay-nuh."

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