TikTok to finally ban misgendering, deadnaming, misogyny and conversion therapy content

An image of a woman holding a cell phone in front of a TikTok logo displayed on a computer screen

After years of criticism, TikTok has pledged to protect the LGBT+ community from harassment by banning deadnaming and misgendering.

The video-sharing app announced a new update to its community guidelines to make TikTok a safer place for marginalised communities including LGBT+ people and women.

On Tuesday (8 February), TikTok said it will now prohibit misgendering, deadnaming and misogyny. It will also ban all content that promotes the barbaric practice of conversion therapy on the platform.

Cormac Keenan, head of trust and safety at TikTok, said in a statement that these “ideologies have long been prohibited” on the app, explaining that now was the time to explicitly ban such content.

He added that the change came after feedback from creators and “civil society organisations” who said that it’s “important to be explicit in our community guidelines” that TikTok is against anti-LGBT+ content.

“On top of this, we hope our recent feature enabling people to add their pronouns will encourage respectful and inclusive dialogue on our platform,” Keenan said.

Media advocacy organisation GLAAD commended TikTok for updating its guidelines and taking a harder stance on anti-LGBT+ content on the app.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, said that platforms “create an unsafe environment for LGBTQ people online” when anti-trans actions like “misgendering or deadnaming” are not banned.

Ellis added these actions can “too often lead to real world harm”.

“TikTok’s move to expressly prohibit this harmful content in its Community Guidelines and to adopt recommendations made in GLAAD’s 2021 Social Media Safety Index raises the standard for LGBTQ safety online and sends a message that other platforms which claim to prioritise LGBTQ safety should follow suit with substantive actions like these,” Ellis said.

According to GLAAD, TikTok has now joined Twitter as the only major social media platforms to explicitly prohibit misgendering and deadnaming in their hate and harassment policies.

Bridget Todd, communications director for gender justice advocacy group UltraViolet, said TikTok has “become a little safer for women, LGBQ and trans people today”.

“We applaud TikTok for responding effectively to our recommendations and implementing them into an updated, more protective user policy,” Todd said. “Even so, it’s clear social media platforms have a long way to go across the board.”

In May, watchdog Media Matters for America flagged that TikTok’s algorithm – which determines what content appears on a user’s feed – was being used to spread anti-LGBT+ content.

The report warned that even liking one anti-LGBT+ video could lead to a barrage of homophobic and transphobic content being added to a user’s ‘For You’ page – a recommendation system that suggests content based on unique factors for each person on the app.

TikTok told PinkNews at the time that it was “committed to supporting and uplifting LGBTQ+ voices” and was working to “create a welcoming community environment by removing” videos and accounts that “attempt to spread hateful ideas on our platform”.