TikTok Bans Anti-LGBTQ, Pro-Conversion Therapy Content

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday October 21, 2020

TikTok  (Source:AP Photo)

Today, TikTok announced in a statement that the social media platform will ban anti-LGBTQ content, including that which promotes conversion therapy.

The popular social media platform also announced that they will be "taking further action to remove misinformation and hurtful stereotypes about Jewish, Muslim and other communities." TikTok explains that they understand the different lived experiences of people in LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim and other historically oppressed communities sometimes entails reclaiming demeaning language and slurs for purposes of empowerment — for instance, when a gay man intentionally and purposefully self-identifies as a "fag." As such, the company says they are "educating our enforcement teams on these crucial distinctions... and we strive to get this right for our community."

The announced ban has reignited calls in the UK for a ban on the practice of conversion therapy. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has described the practice as "absolutely abhorrent," with the caveat that a ban will only come after further research is conducted — despite a wealth of evidence proving the psychological harm of conversion therapy.

The effectiveness of TikTok enforcing such a ban will likely be scrutinized, as bans by social media giants such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have been problematic. After announcing a ban in July, pro-conversion therapy ads still appeared on Facebook, and sometimes in the form of recommended content to the platform's users. In a report, Media Matters suggested Facebook go one step further and remove pages — not just posts — by organizations that promote conversion therapy.

Users appear to trust TikTok, as it has become a space for those who survived conversion therapy have shared their stories to the platform. Consequently, survivors — and younger LGBTQ people who fear being subjected to conversion therapy — have been able to find and connect with one another.

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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