TikTok Deliberately Sorted Out Posts Made By ‘Ugly’ People

by : Niamh Shackleton on : 16 Mar 2020 18:02
TikTok Deliberately Sorted Out Posts Made By 'Ugly' PeopleTikTok Deliberately Sorted Out Posts Made By 'Ugly' PeoplePexels/PA Images

Policy documents have been leaked stating that TikTok’s moderators were asked to suppress content by people the company deemed ‘ugly’.


It’s believed the measures were implemented to increase the app’s user retention.

In the leaked policy documents, obtained by The Intercept, it is reportedly stated that moderators were instructed to sort through content featuring users with ‘abnormal body shapes’.

TikTok Deliberately Sorted Out Posts Made By 'Ugly' PeopleTikTok Deliberately Sorted Out Posts Made By 'Ugly' PeoplePA Images

Other characteristics they apparently didn’t want on the app, along with those with supposed ‘abnormal body shapes’, were ‘chubby’ people, those with an ‘obvious beer belly’, and people who were either obese or ‘too thin’.


In addition to looking at people’s bodies – there were strict rules on users’ faces too, deeming ‘ugly facial looks’ as those with disfigured faces, lack of front teeth, obvious facial scars and so on.

The reasoning for these rules on the policy document read:

Unlike diversified videos of which the content itself is the mainly focus, in the non-diversified content, the character himself/herself is basically the only focus of the video, therefore, if the character’s appearance or the shooting environment is not good, the video will be much less attractive, not worthing to be recommended to new users. [sic]

https://www.paimages.co.uk/image-details/2.50293229https://www.paimages.co.uk/image-details/2.50293229PA Images

It’s suggested, as TikTok is reasonably new to the social media scene, those behind the app wanted as many people as possible to sign up. Due to this, they didn’t want ‘ugly’ people creating content, as they thought it could deter people from joining.

Following the leak of the documents, TikTok spokesperson Josh Gartner insisted those documents in particular were simply an ‘early blunt attempt at preventing bullying’ and claims those rules are no longer in place.

However, through research conducted by The Intercept, they found similar polices were still in place in 2019.

TikTok Deliberately Sorted Out Posts Made By 'Ugly' PeopleTikTok Deliberately Sorted Out Posts Made By 'Ugly' PeoplePA Images

Since the news broke, people have taken to social media to express their views on TikTok’s controversial policies.

One person tweeted:

So @tiktok_uk visibility is not for the old, ugly, fat or disabled. Do brands really want to associate with that in our 2020 #BeKind world?

Another outraged Twitter user said:

This is just abhorrent. Suppressing ‘ugly’ people leads to an unhealthy view of what is ‘beautiful’ leading to severe repercussions for many of TikTok’s users – young teens. Unrealistic views of beauty make enough of us feel like crap, so please @tiktok_uk – don’t make it worse.

It’s safe to say people aren’t happy about TikTok’s rules and what characteristics they qualify as ‘ugly’.

Hopefully the social media app will learn that beauty is in the eye of the beholder – not the policy creators.

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Niamh Shackleton

Niamh Shackleton is a pint sized person and journalist at UNILAD. After studying Multimedia Journalism at the University of Salford, she did a year at Caters News Agency as a features writer in Birmingham before deciding that Manchester is (arguably) one of the best places in the world, and therefore moved back up north. She's also UNILAD's unofficial crazy animal lady.

Topics: News, Content, Leaked policy documents, Moderators, Social Media, tiktok, Ugly


Know Your Meme News and 1 other
  1. Know Your Meme News

    TikTok Deliberately Sorted Out Posts Made By "Ugly" People

  2. The Intercept