TikTok Packs a Lot More Into Its Updated Terms of Service

The messaging app expanded its outlines on illegal activities, regulated goods, exploitation of minors

TikTok's new terms of service are a long read Wachiwit/iStock
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Popular video creation application TikTok released its updated terms of service earlier this week, with significantly more meat than the previous version.

The prohibition on harmful or dangerous organizations or content was expanded, and in addition to terrorists and terrorist organizations, it covers hate groups, violent extremist organizations and groups engaged in arms trafficking, blackmailing, cybercrime, drug trafficking, extortion, fraud, homicide, human trafficking, kidnapping, money laundering and organ trafficking.

Flags, gestures, logos, names, portraits, slogans, symbols or other object representing those organizations are banned, as is content that glorifies, praises or supports dangerous individuals or organizations.

TikTok’s new terms of service also include lengthy details on illegal activities and regulated goods.

Users are forbidden to post:

  • Content that promotes acts of physical harm, such as assaulting or kidnapping.
  • Content that risks the safety of others, including pranks like swatting.
  • Content that promotes human exploitation or wildlife trafficking.
  • Content that offers the purchase, sale or trade of unlawfully acquired goods.
  • Content that provides instructions on how to conduct criminal activities.

The app also prohibits content portraying ammunition, explosive weapons, firearm accessories or firearms, as well as instructions on how to manufacture them.

On the topic of drugs and controlled substances, TikTok will not allow:

  • Content that displays drugs, drug consumption or encourages others to make, use or trade drugs or other controlled substances.
  • Content that sells, offers, trades or solicits drugs or other controlled substances.
  • Content that provides information on how to buy illegal or controlled substances.

TikTok added a long list of prohibited content related to minors, including child abuse, child nudity, sexual exploitation, underage delinquent behavior (such as use of drugs, alcohol or tobacco) and grooming behavior (an adult building an emotional relationship with a minor to gain their trust for the purposes of sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or sexual trafficking).

And the app adding a section on frauds and scams, covering examples such as phishing, Ponzi schemes, pyramid schemes, fixed betting, get-rich-quick schemes and other scams.

The section about hate speech in the new terms of service now includes these details about slurs: “Slurs are defined as derogatory terms that are intended to disparage an ethnicity, race or any other protected attributes listed above. They are not tolerated on our platform because we do not want to contribute to the spread of egregiously offensive terms. However, we are aware of the fact that slurs can be used self-referentially or have been reappropriated, and we may give exceptions when slurs are used in a song or in other instances of a self-referential satirical context and/or reappropriation.”

Finally, TikTok added a section to its terms of service on a hot-button topic for social platforms these days, misleading information.

The app wrote, “We do not permit misinformation that could cause harm to our community or the larger public. While we encourage our users to have respectful conversations about the subjects that matter to them, we remove misinformation that could cause harm to an individual’s health or wider public safety. We also remove content distributed by disinformation campaigns.”

TikTok provided as examples:

  • Misinformation meant to incite fear, hate or prejudice.
  • Misinformation that may cause harm to an individual’s health, such as misleading information about medical treatments.
  • Hoaxes, phishing attempts or manipulated content meant to cause harm.
  • Content that misleads community members about elections or other civic processes.

TikTok wrote in the introduction to its updated terms of service, “Our values form the foundation of our community guidelines. We remove content including video, audio, images and text that violates our community guidelines, and suspend or ban accounts involved in severe or repeated violations. Under certain circumstances, we will go one step further and report the accounts to relevant legal authorities to keep our community safe.”


david.cohen@adweek.com David Cohen is editor of Adweek's Social Pro Daily.
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