Adore Me took to Twitter to discuss its deleted videos, as well as historic allegations claiming that TikTok suppresses content made by the "ugly," "obese," and the "poor."
In a Twitter thread discussing its experience on TikTok, Adore Me has accused the app of fostering discriminatory content removal policies. The lingerie brand highlighted several of its own videos that have been deleted by TikTok, and noted that they predominantly featured models of color, as well as disabled and plus-sized models.
"We're taking a break from tweeting about lingerie today to have an important conversation about TikTok." Adore Me said via Twitter. The brand went on to disclaim that, being a lingerie company, it's well aware that its content skirts the boundaries of what may or may not be appropriate for social media.
"That said, years of working with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and the rest, have built in general expectations around what is acceptable." Adore Me then added: "TikTok is a different story."
The app's seeming randomness for content removal is well-known within the industry.— Adore Me (@AdoreMe) February 4, 2021
Adore Me also expressed doubt that TikTok's algorithm had improved as much as had been previously claimed. To demonstrate its point, the New York-based company posted a slew of videos that had been uploaded to, and removed by, TikTok.
Adore Me has regularly seen the removal of our content on TikTok that features plus-size, Black, and/or differently abled models and women of color. This is unacceptable and discriminatory, and we will not stand for it.
The brand highlighted the app's hypocrisy by juxtaposing a deleted video with one that had not been taken down. In the former, a Black content creator discussed the brand's line of lingerie products, and the latter was almost identical, featuring a White creator.
Adore Me was founded in 2010 and has cultivated a consumer-adjacent presence on a number of social media apps – TikTok included. However, despite TikTok ranking as the third fastest growing brand of 2020, Adore Me found that it was consistently running into challenges on the app.
"The more these removals occur, the more we wonder if we'll ever be able to grow on the platform—or if it'll even matter, if TikTok continues to drive fat, Black, and/or differently abled creators off the platform with its blatantly discriminatory algorithm."
TikTok has made superficial moves (creating a "Creator Diversity Collective" and donating to a number of charities) but the core algorithmic problem at the very root of the platform still remains problematic and opaque. https://t.co/v9HETYoumR— Adore Me (@AdoreMe) February 4, 2021
In the wake of Adore Me's thread, and the discussion that followed, TikTok has reinstated three of the company's videos, claiming that they were initially deleted as the result of an error.
TikTok has also doubled down on its claim that it does not discriminate based on income, appearance, or ability.
As TikTok grows in its cultural impact - and revenue, including money it makes from creators, and brands like us - it's incredibly important to hold the platform accountable, and ask how exactly it both promotes and how it censors.
Jaime Favazza, a TikTok spokesperson, addressed concerns, saying: "The incredible diversity of our users is what makes TikTok such a unique place to create, share, and find community."
Let us be clear: TikTok does not moderate content on the basis of shape, size, or ability, and we continually take steps to strengthen our policies and promote body acceptance.
Plenty of doubt has been cast upon these claims, however, and Adore Me revisited a 2020 report from The Intercept. In the report, an internal memo was leaked that instructed TikTok moderators to suppress content created by users that were "ugly," "poor," or "obese." Any users who "fit" these criteria would have their content effectively penalized.
A spokesperson for TikTok, Josh Gartner, has since stated that these guidelines were "no longer in use" and, in some cases, had "never have been in place."