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TikTok Apologizes For 'Significant Error' After User Points Out 'Racial Bias' In Their Algorithm

@ziggityler/TikTok

TikTok has come under scrutiny after one of their very own users pointed out that there was a very clear bias within the algorithm that hurt people of color and supported white supremacy simultaneously.

Creator Ziggi Tyler was doing some digging when he realized that several key phrases, including "Black Lives Matter," "Black people," and "supporting Black excellence" were blocked from TikTok's Creator's Marketplace.

However, the phrases "white supremacy" and "supporting white excellence" were not.




TikTok also flagged Tyler's profile when he said the words "I am a Black man," but not when he said the words "I am a neo-Nazi" or "I am anti-semitic."






Several creators and other folks took notice of the algorithm's significant bias toward anti-blackness.

In an event that is unclear if it is related to this exposé or not, TikTok went down in the afternoon of July 6th, the day the video went viral, and several users saw their algorithms reshuffled completely.






TikTok released a statement on the issue to publication Indy100.

"Our TikTok Creator Marketplace protections, which flag phrases typically associated with hate speech, were erroneously set to flag phrases without respect to word order."
"We recognize and apologize for how frustrating this was to experience, and our team has fixed this significant error. To be clear, Black Lives Matter does not violate our policies and currently has over 27B views on our platform."






Whether or not the algorithm has truly been fixed is not clear, but either way, something major has been exposed about algorithms in general.

Algorithms are written by humans, therefore algorithms will always have a bias. Social media alone will never be a fully effective tool for social justice.