TikTok has been the subject of a number of bans in Pakistan, mainly due to content that does not align with Pakistani values and considered inappropriate. Yet the app has been striving to accomplish itself as a leading app for short-form video content that is continuously working to incorporate high standards of digital user safety within its mechanisms.
A webinar on ‘Digital Wellbeing’ was held live on June 14 by TikTok to educate people about such safety challenges that may arise when any new tech platform is launched.
The discussion comprised panelists Jamin Tan, Head APAC Regional Product Policy – TikTok; Jehan Ara, Member APAC Safety Advisory Council – TikTok, and popular content creator Junaid Akram; while journalist Afia Salam carried out moderator duties.
Anyone who may have used TikTok or came across TikTok-generated videos on other platforms, usually has a lot to say about how and how much the content lacks intellect, and is popular because of this very reason.
Jamin Tan pointed out that such user-base and content stems from the fact that TikTok has a mission of inspiring creativity and bringing fun-filled, light-hearted, heart-warming, and ‘real’ experiences to its users.
While such challenges would be synonymous with such a platform, he also explained that TikTok has introduced and enforced community guidelines for a safe user environment, that state clearly what constitutes appropriate content and what does not, available in a number of APAC languages, including Urdu.
He further clarified that to detect inappropriate content; checks are carried out by human moderation teams in tandem with sophisticated technologies and mechanisms. If any content gets flagged for being inappropriate for the markets that it was created for, it gets removed under a rigorous removal mechanism.
Besides this, a mechanism called Age Gate ensures that not only users 13 and above signup for the TikTok platform, but also that teens stay protected by TikTok’s inbuilt safety-by-design features which limit the visibility of comments and messages.
Moreover, their accounts can be paired with adults in the family through the Family Pairing feature, so that younger age users can be monitored by family elders while using the platform.
Junaid Akram spoke as a content creation expert, and highlighted that being a non-native platform; it took TikTok a while to get to know Pakistan’s cultural sensitivities. Yet, the platform curated its safety and community guidelines accordingly, once they understood the mindset of the user base here.
Any videos that are culturally inappropriate or have any sort of user safety concerns get flagged now, and in case any user wants to reach out to the TikTok team, they are extremely accessible especially for their content creators, and this is something very unique about TikTok.
Speaking about his own experience when he decided to join TikTok as a content creator, he admitted to receiving a lot of criticism from his audience and followers due to the platform’s perception. Yet he went on to create content that was knowledge-based and comprised fun and historical facts, which completely changed his audience’s perception for the better.
Jehan Ara also gave some insights about how contrary to perception, young content creators in Pakistan are creating educational videos related to different niches including art, animations, digital devices, etc. all the while following content creation ethics responsibly as well as developing themselves in the process.