In recent years, various online media platforms have taken on the challenge of combating fake news and conspiracy theories. However, that’s a lot easier said than done. YouTubers, unfortunately, know this first hand, such as when YouTube cracked down on misleading information about the COVID-19 pandemic. An attempt by YouTube to halt COVID misinformation resulted in some creators who merely discussed COVID-19 losing their videos and channels. This occurred because the platform’s automated flagging system mistakenly identified those debunking COVID conspiracies as conspiracy theorists themselves. This is all to say that automated systems can and will make horrible mistakes when modifying content. And now, TikTok is facing heat for its own moderation system.

TikTok flagged Writers Guild of America strike videos

TikTok accidentally flagged content about Hollywood writers strikes as the platform filtered QAnon conspiracy theories. Media Matters for America reported this incident, saying that there are no results when you search for the terms “WGA” and “WGA strike” both in video and hashtag categories. When searched, it says the terms “may be associated with behavior or content that violates our guidelines.” There are also no results when typing the hashtags associated with the strike.

TikTok eventually fixed the issue and restored the search results after MMA posted its report. The Dance Byte-owned company confirmed that these searches were accidentally blocked as it was filtering common QAnon conspiracy theory phrases, “WWG1WGA” being a common one resembling the phrases used by the strike content. Such content violates the TikTok guidelines, especially the spreading of misinformation, and the platform has blocked users and content in the past.

A vital platform to spread information

Social media platforms have been vital for the strike to spread information on the matter, especially being a short-form app that reaches the younger demographic. The labor guilds have been organizing strikes for four months as they negotiate for better wages and TikTok is one of the apps they use to spread the word.

As of writing, the blocked terms are searchable on TikTok.