TikTok faces backlash after leaked documents reveal 'ugly' algorithm: ‘Is anybody surprised?’

Katie Mather
In The Know

Recently leaked documents suggest that the social media platform TikTok had policies that limited the exposure of certain users based on their physical appearances and the quality of their surroundings.

TikTok — which is already in hot water over its security concerns — apparently targeted people who were deemed unattractive or “financially lacking,” reported the Intercept, and filtered their content from being on the “For You” section of the app.

The “For You” section, like Instagram’s Explore page, is a suggestion engine powered by an algorithm that can drive tons of viewers to a video, even if you weren’t following the person before.

But according to TikTok policy, those with certain traits were deemed not worthy to be shown to new users.

The leaked document states that the following are attributes to flag and prevent from gaining traction on the app: “abnormal body shape,” being “chubby,” “obese,” or “too thin,” missing teeth, the presence of “obvious facial scars” and being an older person with “too many wrinkles.”

"Is anybody surprised?" one Twitter user wrote in response to the news.

"Oh so that’s why I could never get more than 100 views," someone else joked.

Certain backgrounds in the videos were also flagged if they seemed “shabby and dilapidated.”

According to Gizmodo, a TikTok representative explained to Intercept that if the polices had actually been in effect, they were now “no longer in use” and that the initial purpose of these rules was “an early blunt attempt at preventing bullying.”

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