The famous short video application TikTok is under scrutiny again for its incompetent content filtering algorithms. Recently, a video of an aged man committing suicide started circulating on the platform. The video has been on TikTok since Sunday, showing up on the “For You” page, and has a harmless looking thumbnail leading users to accidentally click on it.
As per TikTok, the clip was originally streamed on Facebook and has appeared on other apps. Nevertheless, the company is taking down the video and is banning the accounts that either already have or are trying to upload the video.
Many TikTok creators are posting videos warning their followers to look out for an image that shows a man sitting in front of his desk with a grey beard. However, for reasons unknown, the most disturbing parts of the video have been hidden inside more innocuous looking TikToks.
TikTok said in a statement,
Our systems have been automatically detecting and flagging these clips for violating our policies against content that displays, praises, glorifies, or promotes suicide. We are banning accounts that repeatedly try to upload clips, and we appreciate our community members who’ve reported content and warned others against watching, engaging, or sharing such videos on any platform out of respect for the person and their family. If anyone in our community is struggling with thoughts of suicide or concerned about someone who is, we encourage them to seek support, and we provide access to hotlines directly from our app and in our Safety Center.
As TikTok videos show up into one main feed called ‘For You’, it is hard for users to avoid videos like these. This incident highlights a significant weakness of TikTok’s content moderation algorithm.