Man ‘devastated’ after TikTok removed video of him kissing his boyfriend because it ‘violated community guidelines’

TikTok kiss removed

A man has claimed that TikTok removed a video of him sharing a kiss with his boyfriend at midnight on New Year’s Eve, saying that it violated their community guidelines.

Mark Pasetsky is the former editor in chief of Life & Style and managing editor of OK! Magazine, and he spoke out about his experience in a piece for Campaign US. 

The TikTok video was just a couple of seconds long and showed the couple sharing a kiss to the soundtrack of Frank Sinatra’s ‘New York, New York’ with a sticker that said “Happy New Year”.

But when Pasetsky received a notification that his post had been removed “because it’s a violation of the platform’s community guidelines”, he said that he “was flooded with feelings of shame and alienation”.

He added: “After being out of the closet for 24 years, I knew I needed to take action for myself and for the entire LGBTQ community… Think about a teenager going through the same experience of having their video removed because they simply kissed their same-sex partner.

“Imagine how devastating it would feel when a popular social network tells them it’s not OK to be who they are. Many would be too afraid to speak up and would not know how to respond to this type of discrimination.”

He said he began by contacting customer support and tweeting the company, but did not hear anything back. Eventually he told TikTok that he would be writing a story about his experience.

After that, he said: “My request was quickly forwarded to the moderation team. Within two hours, TikTok re-activated my video and let me know it had been incorrectly removed due to human error.”

He believed that the removal of the video “appears to be a continuation of TikTok’s reported bias against the LGBTQ community”.

In December 2019, TikTok admitted that in its early days it censored posts by users it deemed “vulnerable”, including LGBT+ people, in a misguided attempt to prevent online bullying. The company said that “while the intention was good, the approach was wrong”.

But Pasetsky continued: “If this decision was based on human error, who was the human? How does TikTok make hiring decisions for moderation positions? Is diversity represented on these teams?

“What about across the organisation as a whole? And, most importantly, what will the company do to prevent a repeat of this experience?

“The bottom line is we can’t allow a social media platform to commit discriminatory micro-aggressions against any community.

“TikTok needs to continue to be called out for biased practices. It’s critical that the company understands its responsibility to create a safe and welcoming environment for all.”

PinkNews has contacted TikTok for comment.