TikTok has announced that it is updating its community guidelines to make the video-sharing app a safer place for queer people and women by banning misgendering, deadnaming, and misogyny as well as conversion therapy from its platform, which has more than 1 billion monthly users.
This move follows months of work and advocacy by UltraViolet, a U.S.-based gender justice advocacy group, along with LGBTQ+ media advocacy organization GLAAD.
According to Cormac Keenan, TikTok's head of trust and safety, these changes to the community guidelines were put in place to "further support the well-being of [the] community and the integrity of [the] platform."
While TikTok says that such content was prohibited on the app, Keenan notes that the company has "heard from creators and civil society organizations that it's important to be explicit in our Community Guidelines."
Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD president and CEO, told the New York Daily News that she hopes this move by TikTok will inspire other social media apps to make similar changes. "[It] sends a message that other platforms which claim to prioritize LGBTQ safety should follow suit with substantive actions like these," she said.
Making social media apps like TikTok safer spaces for LGBTQ+ people should be a priority as it's "a public health and safety issue," explained Ellis, because, as GLAAD's 2021 Social Media Safety report shows, queer people are "in the crossfire, and [are] experiencing real-world harm."
Changing the guidelines is a step in the right direction. "TikTok has become a little safer for women, girls, LGBQ, and trans people today," said Bridget Todd, UltraViolet's communications director, who stressed that there's still plenty of work to be done.
"Social media is nearly ubiquitous in modern life. Which is exactly why we can't allow social media companies to tacitly condone disinformation, racist, misogynistic, homophobic, or transphobic attacks -- today's announcement suggests that TikTok executives agree," she added.