TIKTOK TRANSPARENCY REPORT
January 1, 2021 – March 31, 2021
Millions of people around the world come to TikTok to express themselves creatively and be entertained. In order to promote a safe and welcoming environment, we work to uphold our Community Guidelines by removing accounts and content that don't adhere to our policies. We strive to be transparent about how we enforce our policies to continue building trust with our community members. We regularly publish these reports with that aim in mind.
Starting with this report, insights related to the enforcement of TikTok's Community Guidelines will be reported on a quarterly basis (every three months) instead of every six months. Information related to law enforcement, government, and intellectual property removal requests will continue to be published bi-annually due to the nature of processing and responding to those requests.
Our Community Guidelines apply to everyone and all content on our platform. Our TikTok team of policy, operations, safety, and security experts work together to develop equitable policies that can be consistently enforced. We do not and will not make policies solely at the request of an individual or organization nor can any one person at TikTok change our Community Guidelines. Our policies do take into account a diverse range of feedback we gather from external experts in digital safety and human rights, and we are mindful of the local cultures in the markets we serve. Our ultimate goal is to create guidelines that enable authentic and creative self-expression in a safe and entertaining community environment.
This report provides visibility into the volume and nature of content and accounts removed from our platform during the first three months of 2021 (January 1 - March 31). For the first time, we're publishing the number of suspected underage accounts removed as we work to keep the full TikTok experience a place for people 13 and over. This report also includes information about our ongoing work to counter COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation and protect the security of our platform.
In the future, we'll publish this data at our online transparency center which we're overhauling to be a home for our Transparency Reports and other information about how we keep our platform safe. We welcome feedback or questions about this report, which you can email to transparency [at] tiktok [dot] com.
At TikTok, we work to create age-appropriate environments by developing policies and tools that help promote safe and positive experiences on our platform. In January 2021, we introduced new default privacy settings for teens, setting user accounts ages 13-15 to private and restricting who can download their videos and engage with their content via comments, Duet, and Stitch. For user accounts ages 16-17, Duet and Stitch are set to Friends, and the default setting for who can download their videos is Off.
This is a meaningful step towards driving higher default standards of privacy and safety for minors. And, these updates built upon previous age-restricted TikTok features, including direct messaging, live stream, and virtual gifting, all of which aren't available to accounts under 16 or 18, respectively. Our goal is to help people make informed choices about what and with whom they choose to share, and by engaging teens early in their privacy journey, we hope to empower them to carefully manage and shape their online presence. We also aim to engage parents and guardians by equipping them with tools and resources to have conversations with their teens about digital literacy and safety. For instance, our Family Pairing features enable parents or guardians to link their TikTok account to their teen's to enable a variety of privacy, browsing, and screen time settings.
The immense diversity of our community is part of what makes TikTok a wonderful place to explore and enjoy entertaining content, from new recipes to different cultural traditions and even ideas for a summer garden. We work to foster a supportive and welcoming environment for everyone, and in that spirit we introduced new tools to promote kindness and civility among our community.
- We launched a prompt that asks people to consider the impact of their words before posting a potentially unkind comment.
- We introduced a way for creators to filter all comments on their content so that only the comments they approve appear on their videos.
- We announced a partnership with the Cyberbullying Research Center to advance our knowledge of bullying and develop new anti-bullying initiatives.
We want people to feel comfortable and confident expressing themselves exactly as they are on TikTok. To support body inclusivity on TikTok, in February we introduced access to well-being resources we developed with eating disorders experts to help people identify negative self-talk, think about one's own positive attributes and strengths, or support a friend who may be struggling. We also published permanent public service announcements (PSAs) on relevant hashtags aimed at driving awareness or fostering support around recovery and those affected by eating disorders.
Protecting platform integrity
We continue our work to counter content and behaviors that seek to jeopardize the integrity of our platform. To aid us in this goal when it comes to illegal activities and regulated goods, we joined the Coalition to End Wildlife Trafficking Online which enables us to collaborate with others in the industry on best practices and emerging content and trends.
In addition, TikTok will remove or limit misleading information as it's identified, and we partner with 11 organizations accredited by the International Fact-Checking Network to support fact-checking in 21 languages and 57 markets across the Americas, APAC, and EMEA. If fact checks confirm content is false, we'll remove or limit it from our platform. In the first three months of this year, we introduced a feature aimed at reducing the spread of potential misinformation by informing the viewer when unsubstantiated content has been identified.
TikTok continues to work with public health experts to help our community stay safe and informed on COVID-19 and vaccines. In the first quarter of 2021, our COVID-19 information hub was viewed 1,535,114,921 times globally. Banners directing people to the hub were added to 1,002,100 videos and were viewed 11,846,566,486 times. We also continued to add public service announcements (PSAs) to relevant COVID-19 and vaccine hashtags that direct users to the WHO and local public health resources, and these PSAs were viewed 19,660,517,152 times. As we provided access to information, we removed 30,624 videos in the first three months of 2021 for promoting COVID-19 misinformation. Of those videos, 79.6% were removed before they were reported to us, 88.4% were removed within 24 hours of being uploaded to TikTok, and 61.2% had zero views.
Community Guidelines Enforcement Report
In the first quarter of 2021, 61,951,327 videos were removed globally for violating our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service, which is less than 1% of all videos uploaded on TikTok. Of those videos, we identified and removed 91.3% before a user reported them, 81.8% before they received any views, and 93.1% within 24 hours of being posted.
This chart shows the five markets with the largest volumes of removed videos.
We continue to rely on technology to detect and automatically remove violating content in some markets. Of the total videos removed globally, 8,832,345 were flagged and removed automatically for violating our Community Guidelines.
TikTok offers creators the ability to appeal their video's removal. When we receive an appeal, we will review the video a second time and reinstate it if it had been mistakenly removed. Last quarter, we reinstated 2,833,837 videos after they were appealed. We aim to be consistent and equitable in our moderation practices and will continue our work to reduce false positives through ongoing education and training of our moderation team.
The following chart shows the volume of videos removed by policy violation. A video may violate multiple policies and each violation is reflected.
Of the videos removed by our safety team, the following chart shows the rate at which videos were proactively removed by policy reason. Proactive removal means identifying and removing a violative video before it's reported to us. Removal within 24 hours means removing the video within 24 hours of it being posted on our platform.
We strive to create a platform that feels welcoming and safe, and we remove nudity and sexually explicit content. Of the videos removed, 15.6% violated this policy, which is down from 20.5% in our last report. TikTok strictly removes porn and nudity. For content that may be appropriate for mature rather than general audiences and does not violate our policies, we may limit distribution by making the content ineligible for recommendation into anyone's For You feed. We removed 86.1% of these videos before they were reported to us, and 89.8% were removed within 24 hours of being posted, which is a slight decrease from our last report.
We believe in an inclusive community and creative self-expression and do not tolerate members of our community being shamed, bullied, or harassed. Of the videos removed, 8% violated this policy, which is up from 6.6% in the last half of 2020. This increase reflects an update to our policies late last year which provide stronger protections against bullying behavior combined with modest progress by our systems that work to detect bullying and harassment. Of these videos, 66.2% were removed before they were reported to us, and 83.8% were removed within 24 hours of being posted. To help prevent bullying, we've introduced a number of tools to help creators manage their TikTok experience, including numerous commenting, reporting, and blocking tools, as we work to improve proactive detection in this area.
TikTok is a diverse and inclusive community that has no tolerance for hateful behavior. Of the videos removed, 2.3% violated this policy, slightly up from 2% in the last half of 2020. We attribute this increase to both stronger protections against hate speech and hateful ideologies in our policies and a new model that's incrementally better at detecting hate speech, resulting in more removals. We removed 67.3% of hateful behavior videos before they were reported to us, though 83.9% were removed within 24 hours of being posted.
We work to ensure TikTok does not enable criminal activities or the promotion or trade of drugs, tobacco, alcohol, and other controlled substances or regulated goods. During the first three months of this year, 21.1% of the videos removed violated this policy, which is an increase from 17.9% in the last half of 2020 as attempts to post this content on our platform have risen. Of these videos, 96% were removed before they were reported, and 95.6% were removed within 24 hours of being posted. This is an improvement over our last report thanks to continuous advancements in our detection models.
We believe that trust forms the foundation of our community, and we do not allow content or accounts that involve fake engagement, impersonation, and misinformation. Of the videos removed, 2% violated this policy, down from 2.4% in the last half of 2020. Of these videos, 78.5% were removed before they were reported to us, and 88.9% were removed within 24 hours of being posted. We've continued to improve our misinformation detection models, and this work contributed to the notable increase in proactive detection during the first quarter of 2021 compared to the last six months of 2020.
We are deeply committed to the safety of minors and regularly strengthen this policy and our processes that help keep minors safe. In the first quarter of 2021, 36.8% of content removed violated our minor safety policy, compared to 36% in the last half of 2020. Of those videos, 97.1% of videos were removed before they were reported to us, and 96.2% of videos were removed within 24 hours of being posted. This continued improvement in proactive detection is the result of advancing our models that work to identify and flag violations as content is uploaded, before it receives any views.
We care about the well-being of the individuals that make up our community and work to foster a supportive environment. Of the videos removed, 5.7% violated these policies, which is a decrease from 6.2% in the last half of 2020. We believe this is due to a decrease in the overall volume of these videos as we make a concerted effort to quickly remove content and redirect people searching it to expert support and emergency resources. Of these videos, 93.7% were removed before they were reported, and 91.7% were removed within 24 hours of being posted.
We take a firm stance against enabling violence on or off TikTok. Of all videos removed, 0.5% violated this policy, compared to 0.3% in the last half of 2020. Of these videos, 82.1% were removed before they were reported, and 87.1% were removed within 24 hours of being posted. We believe this increase in removals is due to our guidelines now describing in greater detail what's considered a violent threat and/or incitement to violence in terms of the content and behavior we prohibit. We're developing our proactive detection to flag this type of content while we're also reviewing reports from users and non-governmental organizations.
TikTok is a platform that celebrates creativity but not shock-value or violence. Of the total videos removed, 8.1% violated which is on par with content removed during the last half of 2020. Of these videos, 93.4% of videos were removed before they were reported, and 93.6% were removed within 24 hours of being posted. This is a modest improvement from our last report and the result of strengthened policies and improved detection of such content.
In the first quarter of 2021, 11,149,514 accounts were removed for violating our Community Guidelines or Terms of Service. This includes 7,263,952 suspected underage accounts that were removed from the full TikTok experience for potentially belonging to a person under the age of 13, which is less than 1% of all accounts on TikTok. In the US, we accommodate people 12 and under in TikTok for Younger Users, a curated viewing experience with additional safeguards and privacy protections designed especially for this audience. Through our partnership with Common Sense Networks, we work to provide these users with a safe and age-appropriate viewing experience.
On top of that, we prevented 71,470,161 accounts from being created through automated means and removed an additional 12,378,928 videos posted by spam accounts.
TikTok has strict policies to protect users from fake, fraudulent, or misleading advertising. Advertiser accounts and paid advertising are held to these policies and must follow our Community Guidelines, Advertising Guidelines, and Terms of Service. In the first quarter of 2021, we rejected 1,921,900 ads for violating advertising policies and guidelines. We are committed to building a positive, authentic, and joyful experience when it comes to seeing advertising on TikTok, and we will continue to invest in more people and technology to ensure advertising on our platform meets our standards.
In October 2020, we launched our global bug bounty program as an extension of our vulnerability management program to proactively identify and resolve security vulnerabilities. This program strengthens our overall security maturity by encouraging global security researchers to identify and responsibly disclose bugs to our teams so we can resolve them before attackers exploit them.
In the first quarter of 2021, TikTok received 33 valid submissions, and of those submissions 29 have been resolved. We received 8 public disclosure requests, and all 8 were published. On average, it takes TikTok 3 days to pay out a bounty. With regards to response efficiency, TikTok has an average first response time of 8 hours and resolution time of 30 days.
Terminology and definitions
When determining what content is appropriate for the TikTok community, we use these terms and definitions to guide our moderation strategy. We work with a range of experts to help us understand the dynamic policy landscape and develop policies and moderation strategies to address problematic content and behaviors as they emerge.
- Adult nudity and sexual activities: We strive to create a platform that feels welcoming and safe. We do not allow nudity, pornography, or sexually explicit content on our platform. We also prohibit content depicting or supporting non-consensual sexual acts, the sharing of non-consensual intimate imagery, and adult sexual solicitation.
- Harassment and bullying: We believe in an inclusive community and individualized expression without fear of abuse. We do not tolerate members of our community being shamed, bullied, or harassed. Abusive content or behavior can cause severe psychological distress and will be removed from our platform when detected.
- Hateful behavior: TikTok is a diverse and inclusive community that has no tolerance for discrimination. We do not permit content that contains hate speech or involves hateful behavior and we remove it from our platform. We suspend or ban accounts that engage in hate speech violations or which are associated with hate speech off the TikTok platform.
- Illegal activities and regulated goods: We work to ensure TikTok does not enable criminal activities. We prohibit the trade, sale, promotion, and use of certain regulated goods, as well as the depiction, promotion, or facilitation of criminal activities, including human exploitation. Content may be removed if it relates to activities or goods that are regulated or illegal in the majority of the region or world, even if the activities or goods in question are legal in the jurisdiction of posting.
- Integrity and authenticity: We believe that trust forms the foundation of our community. We do not allow activities that may undermine the integrity of our platform or the authenticity of our users. We remove content or accounts that involve spam or fake engagement, impersonation, misleading information that causes harm, or that violate any intellectual property rights.
- Minor safety: We are deeply committed to ensuring the safety of minors on our platform. We do not tolerate activities that perpetuate the abuse, harm, endangerment, or exploitation of minors on TikTok. Any content, including animation or digitally created or manipulated media, that depicts abuse, exploitation, or nudity of minors is a violation on our platform and will be removed when detected. When warranted, we report violative content to the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) and/or other relevant legal authorities around the world. TikTok considers a minor any person under the age of 18.
- Suicide, self-harm, and dangerous acts: We care deeply about the health and well-being of the individuals that make up our community. We do not allow content depicting, promoting, normalizing, or glorifying activities that could lead to suicide, self-harm, or eating disorders. We also do not permit users to share content depicting them partaking in, or encouraging others to partake in, dangerous activities that may lead to serious injury or death.
- Violent extremism: We take a firm stance against enabling violence on or off TikTok. We do not allow people to use our platform to threaten or incite violence, or to promote dangerous individuals or organizations. When there is a threat to public safety or an account is used to promote or glorify off-platform violence, we may suspend or ban the account. When warranted, we will report threats to relevant legal authorities. To effectively protect our community, we may consider information available on other platforms and offline to identify violent and extremist individuals and organizations on our platform. If we find such individuals or organizations on TikTok, we will close their accounts.
- Violent and graphic content: TikTok is a platform that celebrates creativity but not shock-value or violence. We do not allow content that is gratuitously shocking, graphic, sadistic, or gruesome or that promotes, normalizes, or glorifies extreme violence or suffering on our platform. When there is a threat to public safety, we suspend or ban the account and, when warranted, we will report it to relevant legal authorities.