As recently as last year, TikTok employed a two-tier moderation system that gave preferential treatment to its most popular users, according to Forbes. The outlet obtained an audio recording of a September 2021 meeting where the company detailed an internal feature called “creator labels” that was reserved for accounts with more than 5 million followers. When it came to moderating those users, many of them influencers and celebrities, TikTok reportedly filtered them through a separate moderation queue that saw the company treat those accounts differently.
“We don’t want to treat these users as, um, like any other accounts. There’s a bit more leniency, I’d say,” one employee with TikTok’s Trust and Safety said during the meeting, according to Forbes. On its website, the company states its Community Guidelines apply to “everyone and everything on TikTok.”
TikTok did not immediately respond to Engadget’s request for comment. A spokesperson for the company told Forbes it is “not more lenient in moderating accounts with more than 5 million followers,” adding it does not have moderation queues based on follower counts.
If the report is accurate, TikTok would not be the first company to treat its most influential and powerful users differently. In 2021, The Wall Street Journal detailed how Meta’s XCheck system had allowed millions of high-profile Facebook and Instagram users to skirt its rules. In one incident described by the report, the system “blocked” Facebook moderators from removing nude photos Brazilian soccer star Neymar posted of a woman who had accused him of sexual assault. The post was viewed more than 60 million times before Meta took action. Additionally, the company did not ban Nyemar’s account, even though he shared non-consensual nudity in violation of its Community Guidelines.