Does TikTok Give Certain Creators Special Treatment?

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oasisamuel/Shutterstock Remix by Caterina Cox

As much as creators can try “gaming” algorithms and optimizing our content on platforms like TikTok, this type of work only goes so far. A huge chunk of your success essentially comes down to luck, chance, and often obfuscated decisions from social media platforms about what kind of content they want to prioritize.

Now, a new investigation by The Guardian claims that they’ve found evidence of certain TikTok accounts having a “special status” by TikTok moderators.

Reportedly, moderators in Europe were encouraged to be more lenient with content posted by accounts with certain internal tags, including: “super account,” “super account super account,” “Top PGC,” and “top creator.” Another tag, “high influence creator,” allegedly contains a warning to moderate those creators “carefully to avoid inaccuracies.”

These tags, in turn, are believed to contribute to a hierarchical system of TikTok creators, with moderators allegedly being encouraged to be less stringent toward accounts that possess these tags.

If true, this revelation is deeply troubling because it casts the entire integrity of TikTok into doubt. It’s also been alleged that one such a “super account” belongs to Russell Brand, which is especially worrisome given both the allegations of sexual misconduct he’s facing and his recent pivot to alt-right misinformation content.

If these are the accounts TikTok favors, what does that say about the platform as a whole? Is it really a community that good, honest creators will want to grow in? And if the system is so rigged, should they even try?

The idea that the system is rigged isn’t entirely new. Forbes found leaked recordings in 2022 that revealed TikTok had a tiered content moderation that “bent the rules” for top creators and celebrities. Forbes also found in January 2023 that TikTok has a secret “heating” button they use to make creators go viral.

Still, TikTok’s community guidelines state that content moderation policies are implemented “equitably, consistently and fairly.” While TikTok has denied all allegations levied by The Guardian, we have a feeling that creators’ trust in the platform will be a little harder to gain back.

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