TikTok to ban rule breakers using new ‘strike’ system

TikTok will issue strikes to people who post content that constitutes bullying or harassment (Peter Byrne Archive/PA)

TikTok will issue strikes to people who post content that constitutes bullying or harassment (Peter Byrne Archive/PA)

TikTok is implementing a new system to punish users who repeatedly break the video app’s rules.

As part of the policy, users who violate TikTok’s community guidelines will receive a strike when their content is removed, the company announced Thursday. Multiple strikes will result in a permanent ban, TikTok said.

The company is informing its users about the changes as they roll out globally. The company explained that strikes will be issued to users who make offensive comments on posts and live streams, or those who violate specific policies regarding bullying and harassment.

The threshold for kicking the app will vary based on the severity of the violation. In the most severe cases, users will be banned immediately on the first strike. This currently applies to content that promotes or threatens violence, depicts or facilitates child sexual abuse, depicts real-life violence or torture, and non-consensual sexual acts such as rape or molestation.

It will also take tougher action against those who breach its policies against promoting hate ideologies against those who share “low-harm spam”, a TikTok spokesperson told the Evening Standard.

The new app enforcement regime comes as social networks face heightened scrutiny. The UK’s Online Safety Bill – which places a duty of care on internet platforms to protect children from harmful content – ​​is currently making its way through parliament.

MPs from both sides of the political aisle have called for the bill to carry tougher penalties for tech leaders, including up to two years in prison if found to be breaking the law.

TikTok itself has previously come under fire for showing potentially dangerous content to users, including Covid-19 misinformation and clips that could encourage eating disorders, self-harm and suicide.

The new rules are a move away from TikTok’s current enforcement system that relies on a combination of temporary suspensions and educational resources. The company’s analysis found that repeat violators tend to follow a pattern of behavior, with 90% of abusers consistently abusing the same feature, and more than 75% violating the same policy repeatedly.

TikTok is introducing the policy after hearing from creators that its current enforcement system is “confusing to navigate”.

“Overall, we’re… bringing more transparency to account-acquired violations, and we’ll warn a creator if their account is on the portal to be permanently removed,” a TikTok spokesperson said.

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