UK markets closed

TikTok apologises to black users after Black Lives Matter and George Floyd posts appeared to be hidden on site

Andrew Griffin
This photo taken on November 21, 2019, shows the logo of the social media video sharing app Tiktok displayed on a tablet screen in Paris: LIONEL BONAVENTURE/AFP via Getty Images

TikTok has apologised to its black users in the wake of a string of controversies about racial equality on the platform.

The company had most recently appeared to hide posts that included the Black Lives Matter or George Floyd's hashtags from view.

It was just the latest in a series of criticisms over the way the company supports black creators on the platform. Users have argued that the site fails to support or even actively suppresses content from people of colour who post on the platform.

In the latest issue, anyone using the hashtags related to the recent protests over racial inequality and police brutality would be shown a message that indicated nobody had seen the posts.

TikTok said that the posts were actually visible on the site, and that they had in fact been watched billions of times. The bug was a "display issue", the company said, which affected other large hashtags too.

But it admitted that the problem came amid broader problems for black users on the app that had eroded trust in the platform.

"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," TikTok said. "And we know we have work to do to regain and repair that trust."

The bug came just days after black creators and their allies changed their profile pictures on TikTok in an attempt to highlight what they said was marginalisation of their voices on the platform.

In response to the run of problems, TikTok offered an apology and committed to a range of measures intended to make the app a more fair place to be.

"First, to our Black community: We want you to know that we hear you and we care about your experiences on TikTok," it wrote. "We acknowledge and apologise to our Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported, or suppressed. We don't ever want anyone to feel that way. We welcome the voices of the Black community wholeheartedly."

TikTok said that such criticisms were part of "tough but fair questions" about whether the platform was treating its users fairly, in an update posted to its website and signed by Vanessa Pappas, TikTok US general manager, and Kudzi Chikumbu, its director of creator community.

The company said it would launch a diversity council for creators, so that their views could be better heard, along with a range of other long-term measures. It also said it would donate $4 million to groups working to fight racial injustice and that it would look to do more in the future.

Read more

Landlord criticised over viral TikTok about taking tenant's packages