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TikTok told moderators to suppress posts by “ugly” people and the poor (theintercept.com)
790 points by Gonzih 11 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 341 comments





Geez, I thought this might be an overblown piece about algorithms unwittingly optimizing for the wrong things, but the headline is pretty accurate. Discussing how moderators choose content to recommend to people in the “For You” section (not a user — I assume this is something highlighted to users):

> Under this policy, TikTok moderators were explicitly told to suppress uploads from users with flaws both congenital and inevitable. “Abnormal body shape,” “ugly facial looks,” dwarfism, and “obvious beer belly,” “too many wrinkles,” “eye disorders,” and many other “low quality” traits are all enough to keep uploads out of the algorithmic fire hose.

A TikTok spokesperson seems to confirm they are real guidelines, but won’t confirm how they were used.

> TikTok spokesperson Josh Gartner told The Intercept that “most of” the livestream guidelines reviewed by The Intercept “are either no longer in use, or in some cases appear to never have been in place,” but would not provide specifics.


Instagram does the same thing; my 'Explore' tab is full of beautiful people even though I don't follow them. From a business standpoint it makes sense to promote the best looking content since it'll lure in more young users. The young kids probably think something like "Hey look at all those beautiful people. I want to be like them and they use Tik Tok so I'm going to use Tik Tok too."

And my Explore feed is pretty much just pictures of cute bunnies as that's based on the content I interact with (who doesn't love cute pictures of bunnies?!). I'd say that's very much not the same thing - algorithmic interpretation of what I like, vs a moderator deciding to only promote certain things.

What about the ugly bunnies? Don't be so heartless!

No such thing as an ugly bunny!

Consider the culinary section...

No, having worked on explore sourcing and ranking I can tell you with certainty Instagram does not do the same thing.

new account on instagram, click explore, there are people there, nobody ugly.

search for any tag that has mainly people like beach or hiking, all accounts are from very beautiful people with lots of followers.

your algorithm promotes people with more followers and likes, which are bound to be more beautiful people. Unless you avoid any interest in tags related to people and see only beautiful bunnies, not ugly bunnies, your feed will be only beautiful creatures.

I don't know how you can deny that.


Implementation is different, but passes all the same test cases.

Instagram explore is actually pretty good at becoming personalized based on usage. Here's mine.

https://assets.opentoken.com/sha256/yhEqWEExzLtoLZ_fBRrGsyOD...


Maybe it works that way, because users prefer to follow pretty people.

the question is having an algorithm do that (suppresing ugly and therefore unpopular users/photo) is different than having a moderator do it?

yes because it's a choice.

No, it does not. View Cats on Instagram and you will see Cats on Instagram.

> Instagram does the same thing

No, it does not.

There is a big difference between:

- showing you unconnected content you are likely to engage with

- having rules enforced with the help of human reviewers to prevent any user from getting recommendations with people deemed ugly/poor/etc.


I mean, if it’s the same result does it matter if it’s human or artificial moderation?

It's not the same result. Ugly/fat/poor people can make engaging content and that will be recommended on Instagram.

The content you see depends on your interests. Making this up: if you regularly engage with topics that have a majority of fat people posting, say weight loss strategies, you will see a lot of fat people in Instagram Explore.

It's the difference between:

- Instagram: "I mostly see beautiful people" (because that's the content I and many users engage with).

- Tiktok: "I never see ugly people" (because the platform has a guideline that prevents that content from being shown to me)


Let's say there's 10 people on Instagram and 5 are ugly and 5 are non-ugly people

Suppose 10 users on average interact with 2 non-ugly persons and 1 ugly person. People like commenting on the non-ugly people's content with "wow so pretty!" and "that's awesome! ", etc, etc while ugly people don't get as many comments and maybe even receive neutral to non-positive comments.

Now a new person signs up. They get recommend non-ugly people in their feed since that's more popular based on views and interactions.

Another new person signs up and they get the same recommendation, and so on.

After 100 new sign ups, the recommendation engine has 'learned' that majority of people prefer interacting with non-ugly people.

Another new user signs up and all they see in non-ugly people recommendations.

The end result is pretty much the same. Ugly people will get pushed out enough either by the programmatic learning engine that becomes over trained and biased, or by manual reviewers that filter content based on data that shows that non-ugly people bring in more users, otherwise they'd promote ugly people content if that was driving more interactions.


What's your point? Are you saying that TikTok having these guidelines is okay?

(I work at IG, but not on Explore)


The point is that at the end of the day people will always prefer looking at beautiful people over ugly people, so TikToks practices aren’t really all that absurd.

No, they are extraordinarily absurd. One is a choice, the other is a directive. Also, lots of people don't even watch other people in Instagram - just pictures of scenes, animals, etc since that is their interest. And the recommendations reflect their choice of interest.

If you cannot see this critical difference between enforced directive and choice of interest, then god help you.


You've got some insight there. But what can we do if humans just like to see and interact with beautiful people and avoid the ugly? It makes things a bit bleak for me personally, but I guess people want what they want :B

That why I don’t understand the outrage; it’s human nature to like non-ugly things.

The difference clearly in the mostly and never!

I wouldn't say it's "never" on TikTok. Having used both, I wouldn't say i've noticed a difference in how many non-model type persons I see on either platforms.

I don't know where you see ugly people on instagram because I never saw one. it's not mostly, it's never, unless you specifically look for it. and how do you look for it?

by the same standard, you can see ugly people on tiktok, because they don't delete the post, they just supress it from popular feeds.


> It's not the same result. Ugly/fat/poor people can make engaging content and that will be recommended on Instagram.

That's not what happens to me. Instagram consistently pushes model-type people to me even though I hardly ever interact with those types.


It might seem related, but your example doesnt discredit what above poster said.

I think this is striking at the root. Many people in tech have explained away things that where is a selection that occurs algorithmically even if it unsavoury because the black box is a black box and thus has no ill intent. However, the moderation policy does have intent. It just matters whether you value intent vs. actual consequences when you decide whether something is moral or immoral.

There is a school of thought (not sure if I agree with it) that if the outcome of a process is x-ist (racist, sexist, ageist, etc.) then the process itself is x-ist, regardless of whether there was any intent to make it so.

It kind of makes sense. Bad results can and do come out of well-intentioned decisions. In other areas (business, legislation) we judge policies by their actual effects, not by their creators' intentions.


More beautiful people on IG are more likely to have more followers, and therefore more likely to be recommended by Explore.

Half of my explore is memes and infographics because that’s what I interact with a lot.


Legally, intent defines the difference between manslaughter and murder. One is a plausibly an accident and the other is unjust.

> since it'll lure in more young users

The older crowd also prefer to look at beautiful people.


It's just what you've responded to. I've literally got 90% baby yoda memes, I'm not even kidding. The 'for you' is algorithmic, not curated by mods based on beauty like it seems TikTok was.

coz baby yoda memes are considered as "cute" by moderator ;) and by no means a baby yoda seems ugly for anyone ;)

Hmmm I never used that feature before, I just go through my feed. I checked and yes indeedy if it was a person I would say 9/10 were very attractive humans.

Not everyones wisdom grows by age that's a privilege. A lot of people plateau on a level before they are twenty, its not just young people doing this.

I'm suprised, I mean normally people themselves are already quite capable of following and watching only the most gifted, beautiful and talented individuals, or at least the ones that appear so. All to feel a little bit worse about themselves every day.

I don't understand why you would need to actively encourage this, I don't believe Twitter would ever have people with “Abnormal body shape,” “ugly facial looks,” dwarfism, and “obvious beer belly,” “too many wrinkles,” “eye disorders,” and many other “low quality” features trending.


Twitter is great for people who don't look conventionally attractive, because there's no expectation of having real profile photos. On Twitter you really can go viral just by being funny.

Instagram on the other hand is so beauty centric that it's created its own makeup aesthetic.


What if I'm beutiful, funny and intelligent? where to go? I'm so confused.

To my house, I will paint you like a French girl.

Just as a counterpoint - I (a middle aged man) joined TikTok to keep an eye on my teenage daughter's posts. I didn't know there was a "For You" channel. I thought it worked more like instagram and only followers could see what you post.

Anyway, I uploaded the most recent video on my phone as a test which was me getting my nostrils waxed in a Turkish Barbers. It hit the For You page and it's now got 360k views :-(


That's platform vs editor problem of social media all over again. You're either a communication platform akin to a phone cord that functions regardless of what's communicated on it, or an centrally controlled media with an editorial board which is in charge of what users post on in and is responsible for it.

The only difference with Facebook is that it got crap from people who wanted it to be responsible for it's content (fake news), while TikTok gets crap from people who were not prepated for it to be so moderated, but it's still the same fundamental problem of trying to sit on both chairs at the same time.


Tinder does the same thing too right ? Attractive people are matched with attractive people At the end of the day when it comes to eyeballs, sexiness sells. The rules of attraction are very much gamified at this point.

not the same thing, no

They can be both be wrong. Whataboutism can be a dangerous race to the bottom
avocado4 11 days ago [flagged]

China exporting its culture to the world.

Since you've ignored our many requests to stop doing nationalistic flamewar on Hacker News, I've banned this account. If you don't want to be banned, you can email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.

Maybe you don't owe a country better, but you owe this community considerably better if you want to post here.

https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html


I'll assume you know better than I, but while browsing the past few weeks of that account's comments I didn't see any "nationalistic flamewar" talk. Just a few mentions of Chinese authoritarianism and the stiffing of dissent and open discourse.

...oh.


Maybe in order for it to fully make sense, you have to understand that we'd warned that account four times already, as well as some other things that aren't public.

But even apart from that, there is a litany of comments that broke the site guidelines. It's not like these were hard to find:

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22321296

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22313537

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22447855

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22291539

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22251922

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22209247


TikTok has a long history of doing shady things:

* TikTok's local moderation guidelines ban pro-LGBT content - Chinese-owned social media app bans such content even in countries where homosexuality has never been illegal [1]

* Revealed: how TikTok censors videos that do not please Beijing - Leak spells out how social media app advances China’s foreign policy aims [2]

[1] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/26/tiktoks-l...

[2] https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/25/revealed-...


Actually, I wondered why this article was news. I was under the impression that it was common knowledge that tiktok was doing that kinda stuff.

The Russians call this "face control"; the practice of maintaining a club full of only good looking people by the bouncers.

It's unpleasant, but a handy reminder that TikTok and other social networks don't work for you, but make you into a product.


TikTok is presumably doing this to create a better network for their users. Most of their users are watchers rather than content creators. I'd expect most watchers would prefer to watch attractive people over unattractive ones.

To me, this seems most similar to movie producers hiring attractive people to be in their movies. TikTok creators are making content for the platform, and the platform is curating the content to try and find things it thinks the audience will like. In the same way movie producers select specific people to be in their movies because they think their audience will appreciate them.


> In the same way movie producers select specific people to be in their movies because they think their audience will appreciate them.

Sadly, they’re probably right.


I don't think it is sad. Attractive people are, by definition, attractive. They are nice to look at. This is not everything, but it isn't nothing. In the same way, some people have massive innate talent, or disposition, or intelligence. They can be fun to watch or listen to or just be around.

Perhaps it feels sad because much of attractiveness is "unearned". Some people are born more or less attractive than others and that is unfair - but I think most human attributes are like this. A smart person didn't earn their intelligence, and while they may feel they earned their knowledge, and perhaps they're right, they'd never have been able to earn their knowledge and intellectual accomplishments if they had been born mentally deficient. Famous basketball players work hard, but it wouldn't matter if they were born into 5'5" bodies, etc.

That some people are more attractive than others is unfair, but that fundamental unfairness shouldn't prevent us from appreciating attractive people in my view. I don't see anything wrong with promoting more attractive TikTok users provided it does actually result in a better user experience. In the same way I don't see anything wrong with selecting attractive people to be actors in your movie or film. If you want people to like the main character then it is probably smart to cast an attractive person.


To play devil's advocate, presumably they work for some people, people that want to go to a club in which they attendees are selected by looks.

Sounds just like a lifestyle magazine, or a catwalk, or a million other situations that have been normalised in which people are chosen for how they look (just about every prospectus appears to choose people to present their idea of the right type of diversity, for example).

It's not great, but TikTok just seems to be doing the same as most other organisations?


Just because it is normalized in some other parts of society doesn’t mean this isn’t a new front to fight this kind of discrimination on. Especially since this platform is gaining a lot of popularity with younger generations, an order of magnitude more than the nightclub scene’s impacted users https://www.oberlo.com/blog/tiktok-statistics

The biological platform of humans discriminates. There seems to be a greater amount of pleasing chemical reactions happening when people see good looking people, so they seek them out themselves. I don't know how or if one can fight that, it's seems to be one of the fundamental mechanisms of mating.

There is a difference between recognizing biology, and apps weaponizing it to drive engagement. This is like saying that nicotine releases dopamine so no one can fight cigarettes.

Even disregarding social ideals about listening to people who don’t look like underwear models, the potential for harm is very real - look up Body dysmorphic disorder for the kinds of very real mental health problems this can create in younger generations.

I think given the potential risks, we should have conversations about what this problem is and possible policy solutions. Giving children skewed perceptions of the world, or encoding these kinds of biases about who is worth paying attention to is dangerous.


It's all not great. We can call them assholes without having to pass laws. If there's enough assholes they'll survive anyways.

I was going to say, club bouncers have been doing this for decades.. it's really nothing new...

How is this different from nightclubs having a high bar to entry?

I am not saying this is an ethical thing to do, I am saying these apps are no different from nightclubs and they gotta do what they gotta do to survive. And no matter what you may say, humans prefer non ugly people over ugly people. I am sorry but this is simply how humans work. If you disagree, then you are a hypocrite.

So should high end nightclubs be publicly shamed for doing what they do (when what their "users" want is exactly non-ugly people) and driven out of business?


Or news stations, which hire presenters based on attractiveness.

Or fashion products, which hire models based on attractiveness.

Or the music industry, which puts forward pop stars that are attractive while keeping ones that don't have sex appeal off the air.

Or the film industry. Or the literally any other industry that tries to survive via popularity and getting eye time. Attractiveness sells. What TikTok is doing is no different than any other industry, it's just that the models aren't getting paid.


Don't forget the service industry. There's a correlation between how attractive you are and your earning ceiling for bartending and waitering/waitressing.

I can offer real world evidence in support of this correlation. I worked at 2 different restaurants in my life. I didn't get many tips; only pocket change if it was a good night. The hot waitresses could make as much as 1/3 of their monthly salary from tips.

It's not the same though, is it? On Instagram and TikTok and the likes, you don't need "ugly filters", because there's instant feedback: clicks, impressions, likes, hearts, comments, whatever. In the film industry, for example, you won't know whether the product will be a success or not until after the fact that you spent a ton of money on it.

Suppressed is wrong. The for you page is more like free promotion and free promotion is not a human right. You can still promote your content manually even if it doesn't get on the for you page.

> So should high end nightclubs be publicly shamed for doing what they do (when what their "users" want is exactly non-ugly people) and driven out of business?

Sure, why not?


Should MENSA be shutdown on the grounds of it's discriminatory membership model?

MENSA should voluntarily shut down, for other reasons.

Nobody's talking about shutting anyone down. People can do shitty things even if they have a right to do them, and everyone else can think they're assholes. No contradictions. Same with free speech- people can say whatever they want, but if they say something that makes someone else think they're an asshole, the other person has a right to call them an asshole. Assholes are not criminals, they're just assholes and deserve to be treated as such.

I'm not sure that's a great example because its probably a better experience to be outside of MENSA than inside it.

A bit of a tangent but Mensa is not an acronym and should not be written in all capital letters. Some of their typeface choices over the years may have created confusion about this.

MENSA seems upfront about their requirements, and doesn't rely on tricking the masses to make them think they have a chance.

Amusingly, my mom and grandma were both MENSA members. My mom hated it 'cause it was a meat market. My grandma loved it for the same reason.

Discriminating on mental agility seems an eminently useful thing to do.

They're not mentally agile enough to avoid MENSA.

My standard of ugly may not match yours. I can refuse to patronize a nightclub that bars people I like.

Privately-run-and-owned social networks like TikTok tend to attain a critical mass where they're considered a utility when they're really not. So boycotts don't work because it becomes literally where everyone is after a while, and alternatives become difficult because the barrier to entry gets so high.

That's the real problem, and the problem of a centralized Internet. I should be able to broadcast video from my house and participate in a peer-to-peer CDN of my choice.

Tiktok is not a CDN, it's a presentation layer on top of their own CDN or one they rent through cloud providers.


Because TikTok isn't a nightclub, it's a place for people to put their own content out on the Internet. Not just people, but primarily people living in a pathologically authoritarian state that doesn't allow them to access other places on the Internet that they could put their content on.

But even ignoring the authoritarian state angle, surely you'd think it'd be weird and counterproductive for user content from YouTube or Instagram or imgur to have similar policies? Those sites are also not nightclubs or modeling agencies or a Hooters franchise either.

FWIW it's totally shitty for nightclubs to be discriminatory in that way. I get why they do it, but it doesn't make it any less shitty of them, and it sure as hell doesn't let them off the hook for their shittiness in this regard.

Tangentially, this is one of infinitely many reasons that nearly all of humanity hates nightclubs, including the people that feel socially obligated to go to them, and including people still young enough to convince themselves that they must be having fun there because it sure looks like everyone else is, not realizing that everyone else is thinking the exact same thing.


Except, it IS a night club. The Web is not what it used to be decades ago. There is no elusive concept as "The Web", it's now just a different way for people to connect, just like going to a nightclub. It's been like that ever since the majority of the world got on it.

You say "it's a place for people to put their content out on the internet", but you don't ask WHY they would do that. And I don't know if you have used TikTok at all, but if you ask anyone who "put their content out on" TikTok, they would agree TikTok is like a giant nightclub.


What kind of night clubs do you go to where there's a high bar of entry — but everybody is still allowed in anyway?

It's more like a strip club, where the beautiful people are unpaid strippers who don't even know that they are strippers. And even that's a poor metaphor.


Oh, no, plenty of people who are confident that they're beautiful are getting paid these days. Plenty of them stripping for it.

Spend just a little time on Twitter/Instagram/Tiktok or click on any given Patreon link and you're likely to come across new age digital strippers. If anybody is unpaid and making popular content these days, they're very unaware.


The way I read the OP's analogy is just as the Night Club places restrictions on who can enter, TikTok is also placing restrictions on who can post content.

And why I think the analogy does have some merit, is because the metric used to decide on who gets restricted is the very similar in both of these cases.


They don’t limit who can post content but rather whose content reaches the suggestions, regardless of a post’s popularity.

Also, again, the people turned away from the night club door still can’t go in. Took Too users who don’t post can still view content.


All of that may well be true.

However, if this article is correct, they also seem to favour good looking TikTok users, which is not unlike Night Clubs who also like to favour good looking patrons.


If the posted content is never shown to anyone then this is the same as not allowing the post.

TikTok is like Twitter in that you can follow people.

Something not trending on Twitter isn't the same as not existing or not showing to one's followers. Likewise, something not becoming a suggested TikTok isn't the same as not allowing the post wholesale.


if you can convince your peers to surf your profile, your content is still accessible I suppose

The web was never a commons. It all rests on accessing content hosted by privately owned platforms. The commons is SMTP, SNTP, and IRC. Digital natives don't care about these because they aren't shiny and expect that the free stuff they've been given all their life is an inalienable right.

Apple has intentionally killed chat apps other than email and centralized stuff by not allowing self hosted push servers.

Don’t blame this on young people, IRC was becoming popular again right around when the iPhone started to become necessary for everything.


Whats App works on Apple, Signal, Telegram. How has Apple “killed” chat apps? That makes no sense.

> chat apps other than email and centralized stuff

Emphasis added for clarification.


Rights don't involve being given "free stuff", they exist to prevents it from being taken away. Which is a super popular misconception (or at least misuse) all on its own.


If you read that Wikipedia you linked it supports my position more than negates it. Positive rights are rarely if ever imposed on individuals or organizations of a country and almost always involve some sort of significantly limited contract which outlines the government's responsibility to fulfill them.

For example, there's a massive difference between saying "everyone has a right to healthcare" in a country than saying "the provincial governments of Canada has to provide a public health insurance option to tax paying citizens and temporary visitors".

When I walk into a doctors office as a Canadian citizen or enter the ER I'm still at the whims of the system. All that I know is that the financial costs of the what care I can find will be covered, care which is provided by a limited set of doctors, care the doctors decide to provide me often based on their perceptions of need and a broad definition of 'cosmetic'. If the doctors office is busy and all the ERs are full, or they don't believe what I say or that my symptoms don't require care, there's no one I can go to about my "right to healthcare" or right to spend the health insurance.

Proposing these limited arrangements as if they are positive rights does more harm than good. Once you add enough modifiers to make it accurate, you might as well not say it at all.

I know this matters little during political campaigns and all promises are non-binding so they might as well lie through their teeth as much as possible, up to the point people call bullshit. But it still significantly influences how we debate and discuss important topics, and it's a type of thinking which filters down into a lot of things which have little to do with political campaigns.


Politically, I don't disagree.

I do find this nomenclature helpful when trying to convince people.


Nobody has a right to someone else's property.

The web is still there, you can still dump some HTML in IIS on your crappy windows laptop from bestbuy and plug it into your router and have it show up on google (not that that’s a good idea.) Heck you can dump your html files on github pages with the same effect, you don’t even need to know git.

The web is still the web, most people still don’t bother using it.


Getting a domain on google is not as easy as it used to be. If your domain has few inbound links don’t expect to appear on google at all, no matter how unique your search keywords may be.

I run a extremely small website and I have never had an issue with being found on google. This is with questions to visitors as to how they found us, and google is a consistent answer. Do you also have anecdotal evidence supporting your claim that google does not host niche content?

Yeah my personal website is on google and I don’t put any effort into making it searchable.

If I actually had interesting things on there it would probably be on the front page for a few related keywords.


The entitlement is too real here.

Their platform, their choice for what goes on. You want something better? Go build in yourself. I have no problem with platforms self moderating. At the end of the day consumers speak with their actions.

How many TV shows feature dwarfs or people with who are abnormal? Don't blame a platform for the inherit flaws in most of us. It really only serves as a black mirror to the truth.


I agree completely, but these companies need to make their policies transparent so the users will have an informed choice about their platform.

Yet for some reason, TikTok wants to hide this story. Why do you think that is?


Because it's not a good look. They want to use a clean app, but they don't want to see the cleaning being done.

This is what people want. I mean, if they wanted to see ugly people or whatever, then TikTok would show them it. It's not any different than Tinder filtering out the duds.


Then why not just leave it to an algorithm? Why the need for editorial intervention?

The person I was responding to was basically saying "let the users decide" but that can't happen if TikTok is lying to the users.


These days, a lot of what tech companies call "artificial intelligence" is actually outsourced moderators used to train a linear regression.

So there isn't much difference between algorithmic and manual sorting yet, because the AI needed for algorithmic curation is not intelligent enough yet.


> How many TV shows feature dwarfs or people with who are abnormal?

Oh I don't know...Game of Thrones (Tyrion), Stranger Things (Dustin), Breaking Bad (Walt Jr.) etc.


And those characters stand out partly because they're not the norm in Hollywood

> The entitlement is too real here.

A platform is not entitled to be free from criticism. And neither are you.

The platform can do what it wants, and the rest of society is free to attack them for it, and cause them to get bad publicity.

And it is silly for you to attack people for giving their opinion on the matter.


Can't remember what was the country,where the absolute majority of parents give their children away to institutions if they were born with any mental or physical disabilities....Nice not have those nasties around,I suppose,right?

Do you seriously think that getting rid of a child is somehow even remotely comparable to not being able to use an ephemeral social media app that is essentially just Vine 2.0?

> Their platform, their choice for what goes on.

Can you say the same about Facebook?


I'm not sure what their current policy is, but they also had community standards [1] which they defined and enacted.

[1] https://www.wired.com/story/heres-what-facebook-wont-let-you...


Absolutely. Why would it be any different?

Because TikTok isn't a nightclub, it's a place for people to put their own content out on the Internet

No, TikTok is a place for a company to sell ads on views of creator content and they, much like those nightclubs, believe having "desireable" creators will get them those views.

Other sites have different strategies (much like the local bar in comparison to that nightclub). Their strategy seems to work for a variety of industries.

I am not supporting it, as being on the other side of the good looking line does tend to make life a pain in the butt around the "pretty" people.


> it's a place for people to put their own content

Please, please, read the ToS and stop thinking like that! This is not people's own content, it's Facebook's, YouTube's, Reddit's content. If you want to own your content - you should rent a domain name, a server and host it by yourself.

Except typical social network users doesn't want to own their content. They are here for other's attention.


That's a slippery argument, if we consider that letting people post to these social networks is somehow a right, then doesn't that effectively mean that the alt-right folks who complain about deplatforming being a free-speech violation have a point?

Or maybe there's a case to be made that censoring people for being homosexual or looking different is a form of harassment by censorship?

It's not like these platforms offer any kind of critical service. They come and go every couple of years it seems. TikTok seems pretty crap, just tell people to stop supporting it.

Some people feel socially obligated to go to nightclub, others feel socially obligated to use some social networking app. They're probably both wrong.


fyi tiktok isnt used in China. ByteDance has a different brand there.

Douyin 抖音. It's the same app though.

It's the same underlying app/framework, but not the same content and users, right?

> Not just people, but primarily people living in a pathologically authoritarian state that doesn't allow them to access other places on the Internet that they could put their content on.

No it's not. China has their own version of TikTok called Douyin. If I recall correctly, TikTok isn't even available in China.

Since TikTok isn't even used in China, who exactly are the users you're describing as "people living in a pathologically authoritarian state"?


Mind you it's the same company behind TikTok tailored to westerns.

And? Does that change the correctness of what I said?

> but primarily people living in a pathologically authoritarian state that

This is patently false. Unless you're calling the US an authoritarian state.


Have you gone to https://www.douyin.com/ ? it IS TIKTOK...

No it's fucking not. The content on the two are different. You cannot access TikTok content on Douyin nor can do you do the reverse.

The point is:

> but primarily people living in a pathologically authoritarian state that

This is patently false. Unless you're calling the US an authoritarian state.


I think what a lot of nightclubs end up doing is definitely discriminatory and we should not tolerate that.

If the pretty people don't want an ugly guy like me around, then why would an ugly guy like me want to hang out with those pretty people? It seems like a "nothing of value was lost" situation. I'd rather hang out with people that enjoy my presence.

What would shaming them for this accomplish? Is the idea to shame them so much that they pretend to like ugly people like me? What would be the point of that?


Not sure why you’re being downvoted here. Everyone knows that there are exclusive cliques and there always will be. If you desperately want to be part of a group that doesn’t want you, then that’s your problem to overcome.

> If you desperately want to be part of a group that doesn’t want you, then that’s your problem to overcome.

Tell that to the black people who demanded the right to eat in "white" restaurants.


Wow, so now the nightclub line is a civil rights issue?

This is an incredibly ignorant and offensive analogy.


The restaurant counter was one of the first civil rights issues. Not that different from a nightclub. What's the real difference here? That effectively segregating ugly people is more acceptable than segregating by skin color?

The ignorance here is among those who don't understand that people are suffering from this discrimation, and the offense is coming from people who justify and defend it.

Nightclubs and TikTok aren't the most important examples of this, but for people who faced discrimination their entire lives, any victory would make life a little easier.


So no group can select their members anymore? Nonsense. A model agency will continue to hire exclusively beautiful people. Top tier universities will remain a club for well doers in the education system. My group of friends remains closed to most everyone else and so does yours.

Exclusivity is a necessity for society.


No one is trying to end "exclusivity". Harvard is still exclusive even though it now admits a whole lot of people they would never have considered 100 years ago.

But if a group is excluding people based on innate physical characteristics, maybe they should rethink that.


NBA? Football? Hollywood? And as I said, model agencies?

Many physical attributes are absolutely relevant for a given context.

What we should do, is getting rid of irrelevant and abhorrent discrimination, such as racial selection.


That's a meaningless statement. Bigots of the past all felt their personal prejudices were absolutely relevant, and didn't find the discrimination they practiced at all irrelevant or abhorrent.

Society made progress only because people fought against that. They were all accused of fighting against nature, but over time, more people realized those old standards weren't as "natural" as they were once thought to be.

Do you imagine we've reached the pinnacle of human social evolution and tolerance? Perhaps we still have similar lessons to learn, and people of the future will consider our behavior as abhorrent as we consider the 1800s.


Let's agree to disagree. I'm talking about physical discrimination being not simply valid by the standards of our time, but unavoidable, depending on the context. Short people can't play in the NBA, because they can't compete with bigger players.

The only progress that could push society past that, is genetic engineering. Everyone on equal footing or so different, that sport as we know it ceases to exist.


I agree that we can't end all inequalities anytime soon. Men still can't bear children, and women still bear the burden of doing so. Etc.

But that's no reason not to eliminate discrimination when we can.


Why would you not shame them? Shaming is free and legally inconsequential. You are essentially saying no one has the right to complain.

It costs your time and energy. There must be a better use of your time than trying to shame nightclubs.

I'm responding to people who are using their time and energy saying they shouldn't be shamed. I wonder why they're wasting their energy with counter-shaming?

That user doesn't speak for me; my time is not so valuable today, which is why I thought to spend some of it casually chatting about a social media website I never had any intention of using. It was never my intention to shame you, nor to deny your right to shame others. If you feel as though I've tried to shame you, then I apologize for the miscommunication.

I don't shame people unless I think it will accomplish something productive. I wouldn't think of denying that you have the right to shame people for whatever reason you like, but I choose not to do it myself unless I see a good reason for it.

To affect their behaviour, obviously. To provide negative feedback.

That only works on people who aren't shameless and are willing to reevaluate their own behavior based on external criticism. Sometimes you have to pick your battles.

So back to my question: "What would shaming them for this accomplish? Is the idea to shame them so much that they pretend to like ugly people like me? What would be the point of that?"

What effect on their behavior do you hope to accomplish by shaming pretty people for not wanting to hang out with ugly people? I'm not seeing a productive reason to do this.


unattractive people are not a protected class

I am unsure how this is relevant. "protected class" is a legal term, it has nothing to do with morality.

In addition to that I doubt that refusing to sell a cake to someone because they are ugly would be considered an acceptable thing in a court of law.


> "protected class" is a legal term, it has nothing to do with morality.

This is not a distinction that most people have the mental capacity to make. Whatever the law is, that's obviously what it should be.


It is allowed for by courts for hiring decisions when hiring sales people. And things like commission based pay means it happens even if not explicit.

Aside from beauty, if you do things to signal you are poor as a luxury sales person, I’m not sure the company is required to keep you on, right or wrong.


You’re saying, in effect, that it is not illegal.

Which is not a statement of whether it is moral, or a social benefit. Discrimination against an “unprotected class” can still be worthy of criticism.

For a very long time in Ontario, homosexuals were not protected from discrimination by law. The laws protecting them came about because people would not settle for, “if it’s legal, it must be above reproach.”


It depends why they are unattractive. If it is due to a birth defect, dwarfism or some other condition that is also a disability then it is a protected class.

Doesn't mean it's not a shitty thing to do.

They are the most highly discriminated against, though.

And 100 years ago race, sex, and sexual orientation weren't protected classes. Society makes progress, slowly.

But how can you objectively establish that somebody is unattractive? Assuming the world moves into this hypothetical society you're describing nobody wants to be part of that new protected class.

If you're by some semantic classified as unattractive, you will automatically feel segregated and marginalized. This is not like sexual orientation where non-heterosexual people actually have a desire to express their sexuality but this desire is repressed by a regressive, judgemental society. This is exactly why "Gay Pride" is a thing.

Compare that to being unattractive. Unattractive people, whatever that means, don't want to be part of that group. That's a pure factual reality of the human instinct. People want to feel attractive because they have a natural instinct to intermingle and reproduce.

But even if we opt to oversee this particular deficiency when attempting to justify an "unattractive" protected class, the problem is that "attractive" is extremely subjective and usually dictated by societal norms.

What's attractive today wasn't attractive 100 years ago. What's attractive in Africa is not what's attractive in North America. What's attractive for me (even in this dictated herd mentality) is not necessarily attractive to you. The only common factor that all these perspectives share is that nobody wants to be classified as unattractive.


People in this hypothetical protected class are placed there by others. They're already segregated and marginalized, and generally no one asks them if they want that.

We have an example of that right here from TikTok.


That's exactly my original argument.

"I determine you're ugly but you can still come into my nightclub" is not that much better than "I determine you're ugly and you can't come into my nightclub"


How about “I’m not allowed to use attractiveness to determine if you can come into my nightclub”

Good luck ever enforcing that.

Because the above counter-argument is that you only belong to this class when people put you in it.

People aren't in or out of a protected class. Protections for race, sex, orientation, etc apply to everyone, even straight white men. Protections for religion even apply to atheists.

The laws prohibit certain behaviors, like excluding people from nightclubs on the basis of skin color. They could easily also prohibit excluding people from nightclubs on other appearance criteria.

Of course no one can control thoughts, and some people will still feel and think hateful things, but that's true for every protected class.


Which is why rather than protected classes there must be protected characteristics.

>Unattractive people, whatever that means, don't want to be part of that group.

Neither do the elderly, the disabled, etc, but still they are legally protected from descrimination.


I guess I wasn't clear enough about that. Disabled people certainly don't want to be part of that classification but there's no subjectiveness when it comes to their disablement.

Unattractive people don't want to be part of that classification and their belonging to that class is 100% subjective in any direction. Even them leveraging their status to get some sort of benefit.

Also, where's the line? Does that mean that rhinoplasty should be covered by insurance under the same merits of sex reassignment surgery?


> Disabled people certainly don't want to be part of that classification but there's no subjectiveness when it comes to their disablement.

You'd be surprised. Being disabled is a spectrum just as being ugly is. It's not just perfectly healthy people vs people missing entire limbs. It's also the person with moderate chronic pain who can do anything they like but not everything they like.

And then there's the whole other subjectiveness that comes from bureaucrats having to classify people into discrete buckets based on how disabled they are. Sure you can't raise your arms above parallel, but does that qualify you for 4C coverage and not just 3D?


> Does that mean that rhinoplasty should be covered by insurance under the same merits of sex reassignment surgery?

If someone's nose is causing as much distress as gender dysphoria, why not?

Sex reassignment surgery isn't easy to get, and presumably coverage for "corrective" cosmetic surgery would also take some evidence. Patients couldn't just make an appointment on a whim.


> If someone's nose is causing as much distress as gender dysphoria, why not?

I definitely agree with you on this one.

But that's where I feel the line gets super blurry. This is not a white or black issue. Gender Dysphoria is an actual documented mental disorder.

Feeling ugly (or in the context of this debate, being classified as ugly), in general, it's not.


Sure, the line is blurry. But so are so many other lines and we can't simply peer into one's mind and see things. Fatigue is a symptom of at least a few autoimmune disorders, but that line is definitely fuzzy and we can't really tell if someone is faking or not.

Body dysorphic disorder is a real thing (probably spelled incorrectly). There are people out there that feel like their limb isn't theirs - it is alien - and go to great lengths to stop it. Some folks spend lots of time and money hiding "flaws" (like their nose), even when they cannot really afford the costs every month, and avoid dating and going out because of these things. Just because it isn't a specific disorder doesn't mean the people are healthy.

And then there is another category altogether: Folks that have had accidents of different sorts. Sure, facial scars from burns or a disfigured nose might not actually cause a psychological disorder and it might not make things physically difficult, but damn it is hard to argue that fixing these things (when possible) wouldn't improve one's quality of life.


Why would it be called a mental disorder? If it's a disorder, it's a physical disorder, whose symptoms are the shitty behavior of other people that it "causes".

Or perhaps a mental disorder in those other people, but that's not likely.


I guess I'm thinking it more from the perspective of third parties like insurance. Gender reassignment is generally covered by health insurance and exclusions may be classified as unlawful sex discrimination.

On the other hand, your health insurance could easily create subjective definitions to deny coverage. Because unlike gender dysphoria, beauty is not binary.

With Gender Dysphoria there is only one direction when it comes to re-assignment options, and it is fully documented that this surgery is beneficial for the patient's mental health.

With beauty/ugliness, there are hundreds of possible permutations and no documented precedence to validate that this is a necessary surgery.


Body Dysmorphic Disorder is in the DSM 5.

>Unattractive people don't want to be part of that classification and their belonging to that class is 100% subjective in any direction.

The way these laws work would not necessitate that. People who are old, disabled or queer are not required to carry a card or get a face tattoo. You are simply unable to descriminate on that variable, whatever the value is (old or young, able or unable, etc).

>Does that mean that rhinoplasty should be covered by insurance under the same merits of sex reassignment surgery?

Age is a protected class in Canada/Ontario but they don't cover blood boys for seniors under OHIP either (although I will strongly lobby for it in old age).


> But how can you objectively establish that somebody is unattractive?

It's difficult to prove individual cases of discrimination. Evidence can take the form of written commentary about a person's looks, or a documented policy about hiring practices. That is to say, you don't need to prove that somebody's unattractive; only that damage was done on the basis of that perception / judgement.


>But how can you objectively establish that somebody is unattractive?

Dating apps are a good data point to start with.


I can assure you that most gay people don't want to be gay either. There is nothing substantial that differentiates these attributes. It's just two features -- some have it, some don't and some have both. It is not "natural" for one of the features to be negative but not the other.

“ I can assure you that most gay people don't want to be gay either”

That sentence is super ambiguous.

Do you mean “Most gay people have a desire to be not gay.”

Or “Most gay people lack any desire with regard to there orientation.”


Reminds me of Doug Stanhopes brilliant bit about being ugly.


Yes!

Mainly his points: "There's no solidarity with the ugly" and "people would rather be called the worst racial slur for their race then be called ugly"


It's an opinion but if a table is ugly we can also say it right?

As someone who does not frequent nightclubs, I don't really see the problem with a self-selecting group of people with standards?

Some people don't want to see you, and that's their business.


About a decade ago there was a huge controversy where I live about many nightclubs limiting the number of immigrant male patrons per night. I guess you don't see a problem with that either?

"Protected class" is a cop out because the question isn't about what the law says but what is moral.


Well, you want to have an exclusive clientele. If you get people who live in the ghetto going there, it's not exclusive. It just causes a poor vibe.

I mean, some nightclubs have immigrants, but nobody goes there because there are too many immigrants.

It's sort of the same thing here with TikTok: on one hand we say that it's bad to ethnically discriminate in nightclubs, on the other hand we don't go to the 'urban' nightclubs, and take it as a good signal when we read the immigrant patrons online complaining about ethnic discrimination.


I mean, why give them a free pass for asshole behaviour? You can shame them and leave them alone.

Who are they being assholes to? You don't have a right to invade people's private spaces. I don't have to invite you into my home.

Provided it's not a matter of a protected characteristic, the idea that you can push your way through the door by law is silly.

They go there to meet people who titilate them, and who don't remind them of how life can go wrong; that's their business in my view.

I know that I'm not attracted to ugly, unhealthy, or elderly people, and it's not wrong to feel that way, it is basically natural; and people who are themselves ugly, unhealthy, or elderly also feel these same things that you find ugly to acknowledge.


> push your way through the door by law

I guess you missed the part where I said you can leave them alone.


A night club is your private home?

When it’s your money building and running the club, you can decide who to let in or not. There is freedom of association and the freedom not to associate. If a nightclub was a public service, the argument might hold, but it’s not. However, let’s extend your discrimination opposition to universities— should they be allowed to admit or deny people based on their economic, racial, or other non-academic characteristics?

>How is this different from nightclubs having a high bar to entry?

The nightclub lets you know where you stand at the door. I took a read of tik-tok's about page, and it gives me the impression that they're here for everyone. Just a platform to share short videos. The author of one of the featured videos on that page looks like someone who may have been filtered out.

I don't think the analogy is completely off base, but we can judge tik-tok for being deceptive.


> So should high end nightclubs be publicly shamed for doing what they do (when what their "users" want is exactly non-ugly people)

TikTok users aren't aware of filtering yet, so telling them is a social good. Humans may prefer to see beautiful people, but filtering out ugly people means the majority of users will be below average compared to the content they view. They should at least know it's happening.

> and driven out of business?

Has this happened to TikTok?


Some of the other people may have insightful, informative or otherwise useful things to say/show.

Isn't this exactly what happened on Instagram?

> If you disagree, then you are a hypocrite.

That kind of tone is frowned upon here.


Using the word 'survive' suggests that nightclubs are living beings. A better wording would be 'to stay in business'.

The individuals who they reject on the other hand are living beings, more specifically humans. And that is the point where it starts to become a moral issue because the business interest of an organization is directly linked to the discrimination of a group of humans.

Yes, that is the way that kind of business works, but it should also be valid to consequently judge it as immoral.


> How is this different from nightclubs having a high bar to entry?

It's not, and that's pretty messed up too when you stop and actually think about it.

> If you disagree, then you are a hypocrite.

Just going to shut out any opposition to your view point like that huh? Great chat.

> So should high end nightclubs be publicly shamed for doing what they do and driven out of business?

Actually yes, discrimination is NOT OK and those supporting it need to be named and shamed.


It's the scale, purpose and effectiveness that is worrying rather than the similarity. Actually, I wouldn't call them very similar beyond their intent - to keep people coming and making money but everything else is wildly different and doesn't make sense to compare.

Many night clubs want users to have "fun" so they pay for a membership. TikTok wants users to stay so they can collect enough data to give it to advertisers or government to target them better.

A single night club won't have more than 100 people at any given time. But tiktok boasts 1.5 billion+ users and millions of them are active at any given time.

Few people going to night clubs won't decide the future of your country but millions on tiktok or other US centric social media might - facebook? instagram?

This too - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22611404

Other comment - https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22612589


How is this different from nightclubs having a high bar to entry?

Most people going to nightclubs are there for fun. In contrast, it's possible to make money on Tiktok and a lot of handicapped people are desperately looking for ways to make money online.

A lot of those people will not be beautiful people. Their disability makes sure of that in many cases.

So the difference is that nightclubs are not telling people "You can make money from the comfort of home" and then shafting people who have few other viable means to make money.

There may be a few sex workers and drug dealers making bank at the nightclub, but they already know they have to fly under the radar and can be thrown out if caught, etc. The nightclub isn't actively telling them they are welcome to hang there and establish an income, then secretly saying "only the sexy people."


This whole comment basically says, "it is how it is, so you can't criticize it." It is like saying, "racism will exist. Humans are just racist. Should businesses be publicly shamed for being racist if it is what their users want?"

Now as for how we should treat businesses that treat people better based on their looks is not something I have a strong opinion about, but my two cents is that looks should not be a factor of how people get treated because it is possible that representation of "ugly" people in media could make many diverse looking people "attractive" to younger generations. This would be beneficial because it means that talent would have more priority over looks than before.


Do they need human mods to make those decisions. Every other site takes popularity (which would includes looks) as a metrics for content people want to see. Human mods will always be a poor proxy unless the mods are known by name and have their own popularity and taste.

> How is this different from nightclubs having a high bar to entry?

Nightclubs tell you if they think you're not up to their standard. This is far more manipulative and cruel. You could even call it gas-lighting to simply encourage these people to post content!


> humans prefer non ugly people over ugly people

Nightclubs that have physical appearance standards have a business model designed around one end of the beauty preference spectrum. By itself, that's not bad; if you want to have a club for only right-handed people, that's fine.

But it's unethical to then pretend that the club is for everyone, when it's really not. That's more like selling someone a car with a top speed of 120mph, but artificially limiting the speed for poorer people, and not telling them. Just because nightclubs walk a fine ethical line doesn't make other companies that also walk that line a great idea.


Really good analogy. I guess the answer is that it isn't ok that the nightclubs do it either, but they get overlooked because no-one has to be there. TikTok, being so widespread, gets closer scrutiny.

A lot of things are like that. One example that comes to mind is that the New York Times, which frequently runs articles criticising tech companies for invading their users' privacy, loads a million trackers every time you access its website. When you're bigger (and more lucrative), different rules apply to you. Maybe that's not a bad thing.


> the answer is that it isn't ok that the nightclubs do it either

Tell me how it could work any other way? nightclubs are "popular" because of this selection, if anybody could come and go, what would make a place popular?

I don't go to nightclubs and I don't enjoy it, but I can understand why it works that way, it may be unfair but if you break that, the whole concept falls apart. It is valid with any type of community, they simply value different things.


They should probably make an exception for rich ugly people.

Are you saying that some nightclubs actually turn people away for not being attractive, because I've never heard of this.

Or do you mean another kind of bar?


They might not outright turn them away, but they might make them stand in a line that never moves, while other people walk right in.

Pretty similar to how TikTok isn't stopping anybody from posting, they are just selective about what they feature.

Don't casting agents and producers essentially do the same thing for movies and TV?


> So should high end nightclubs be publicly shamed for doing what they do (when what their "users" want is exactly non-ugly people) and driven out of business?

Business that engage in immoral behaviour should be shamed. Doesn't matter if it is casino sites, drug dealers or nightclubs that discriminate against ugly people. Whether that shaming results in them becoming unprofitable is beside the point.


It's not. It's just a giant nightclub filled with a lot of people, so there are more people to complain.

I am sorry but this is simply how humans work. If you disagree, then you are a hypocrite.

No, that's how you work.


It's how sexual selection works in general throughout the animal kingdom. You can teach yourself to behave otherwise, but you're hardwired to behave a certain way.

Humans exist within a fitness gradient and we naturally evaluate other humans according to how they fit within it.

I don't like it, but we're bloody animals.


You're assuming a gradient of only one dimension.

It's a multidimensional landscape, and although people can see it differently, consistent patterns arise within the population.

I wonder how much is genetic and how much is learned or conditioned.


The "TikTok e-boy" and "Nightclub chad" are probably overlapping demographics.

Nightclub Chad is probably e-boy’s granddad by now

https://xkcd.com/2271/


Since we are feeding the trolls on the subject of discriminating by appearances, comparing against night clubs is flawed. A night club should not allow just pretty people to enter because simply it is not fair. There might be a hidden rule for some but it doesn't mean that is the right thing to do to begin with. Tiktok is a social network for anyone to join. If they allow anyone to join but only want the good looking people to post, how is that not the hypocritical thing to do? It's increasingly becoming an issue on Social Neutrality (https://www.wsj.com/articles/what-about-social-media-neutral...)

You have to compare it to the Playboy model. Only A+ girls are on view but everybody can is allowed to fap. Its good old fashion content consumption.

The difference is Playboy models are expected to be pretty not by hidden rules.

How is this different from nightclubs having a high bar to entry?

Why does it matter? Because a nightclub does it, suddenly it's OK for TikTok to do it, too?

If Johnny jumps off a bridge, are you going to leap as well?


> How is this different from nightclubs having a high bar to entry?

I gather that TikTok claimed to be inclusive. Nightclubs almost by definition don't.


It also doesn't seem any different than restaurants that require a certain dress code. I remember being denied entry to a night club because I showed up wearing jeans and a t-shirt (it was a big group of us who didn't plan to go to a nightclub, but one member of our group knew the owner and said we should go). The only issue I could see is that TikTok isn't up front about about their "attractiveness" requirements.

Nightclubs are not allowed to exclude people with disabilities.

Thank you for speaking the truth

> So should high end nightclubs be publicly shamed

If you want to do that, then go ahead.

But you should not use whataboutism to shame people into not fighting bad behavior on other platforms.

At the end of the day, this behavior is not normal on most online platforms. And users have the right to shame platforms that do this, and you are the immoral one if you are trying to attack people for doing what they believe is right.


Humans also prefer being politically correct, so you would surely see a lot of people shaming TikTok here.

> prefer being politically correct

Are you implying that it is only because of a sense of “political correctness” that people would object to discrimination?


Louder voices want to be politically correct and shame those who aren't.

It's just a preference for moral attractiveness, don't be hating!

A TikTok spokesperson said the goal was to prevent bullying on the platform, tying the document to a report from December that showed that the company was suppressing vulnerable users’ videos in a misguided effort to prevent them from becoming the centre of attention that could turn sour.

Now that is some fine spin! Reminds of the Oscar Wilde sketch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uycsfu4574w


I used TikTok for a while and saw plenty videos of actual bullying. The comments were never too happy about it, but there was clearly no effort to moderate it.

TikTok doesn’t care about bullying.


It seems their goal is to make the issue go away altogether by pre-censoring people so they don’t have to police bullying after.

Here it’s humans taking that shortcut, in the future I’d totally imagine AIs resolving to eliminate the source of the problems when dealing with societal issues. And we sure won’t be happy about it.


TikTok would be naive to believe that that tactic would alleviate bullying. Anyone long around knows that the internet will find a reason to take you down if they get salty for some reason. Maybe if you’re unattractive, that itself becomes a bullying point but I’ve seen plenty of youtubers/instagramers being torn to shreds for not wearing the right dress, not choosing the correct words etc etc!

This is what happens when you mix utilitarian morality with a desire to stop online bullying. You just stop letting the most likely targets of bullying be seen. This is much cheaper and easier than trying to get rid of everyone who has ever been mean online, because that's everyone.

The documents reveal that it's about curating appealing content to get user retention, and that the talk of stopping bullying is just talk.

> The documents reveal that it's about curating appealing content to get user retention

Seems kind of similar to what supermarket magazines do. Obviously a social media app is not a supermarket magazine, but the premise of cynically using pretty people to drive up engagement is nothing new.


Magazines are not communication platforms their 'users' expect to use in anything remotely the same way.

A better comparison might be bottle-service bars where looks or money buys your way in. Which I personally don't mind - if that's your thing, I guess, go for it. Not every place has to be somewhere I want to go, and they're pretty up-front that you need to meet whatever standards or pay crazy money.

Tik Tok, from observed behavior, is weaselly about it.

Combine with the fact that it is obviously part of the Silk Road strategy and likely an intelligence tool, and I'm going to continue to treat is as the radioactive garbage it is.


> This is what happens when you mix utilitarian morality with a desire to stop online bullying.

What in TFA indicates that these policies were intended to stop online bullying? Just as plausible to think that they were intended to create a saccharine user experience in order to promote growth.


The Chinese solution to "disharmony" is to simply erase anyone who is different. LGBT people are allowed to exist so long as they don't draw attention to themselves. Also the ethnic cleansing in Xinjiang.

I don't think these were intended to stop online bullying as much as they are just another bullying tactic themselves.


Exactly. The Chinese government's vision of a clean, sterile, society and citizenship.

Is this all that different from Apple's walled garden? You want a porn app on your iPhone or a Political app, both are banned and no user oriented way to side load. (geek only solutions don't count).

Political apps exist? Bernie has an app and I'm sure the other major party candidates do too.

Porn also seems like a very reasonable place to draw the line for the app store. It's not like the iPhone has a porn filter, you just have to use a browser to watch your porn.


A look, a theory contrary to all evidence!

Quoting from the article:

'Regarding the policy of suppressing videos featuring unattractive, disabled, or poor users, Gartner stated that the rules “represented an early blunt attempt at preventing bullying, but are no longer in place, and were already out of use when The Intercept obtained them.”'


According to them, trying to make themselves look good.

Wanting to stop online bullying sounds more like a cover story then the truth.

But it's just "The Algorithm"... /s

The Algorithm is people!

Most forms of media do this to varying degrees. Most actors, for example, are attractive people. Few unattractive actors are successful, unless perhaps they only play roles which play off of their unattractiveness (like antagonists/villains). TV news anchors are also usually picked for their attractiveness.

Although this ruffles sensibilities, isn't it kind of expected from an entertainment platform?

Any traditional teen magazine from 20 years ago (seventeen, tigerbeat) wouldn't be scolded for heavily policing what photos go in the pages. Not only that, they heavily post processed everything.

There's superficial and arbitrary gatekeepers for what is called news, what is played on the radio, basically everything. Even some of the talent shows have strict, rather low, age cutoffs. 29 is too old for American Idol (it used to be 25).

Even more apparently egalitarian entertainment, such as contestants on the Price is Right aren't "truly random" and get shortlisted into energetic people who come in larger crowds in order to make better television. Most people think that's probably also fine. Some guy just standing and shrugging after being revealed a "brand new car" wouldn't really be right.

So for a digital social entertainment platform to do the same kind of pruning, it's kind of expected. Content is filtered to create better entertainment for the target demographic, one that I'm not in.

Maybe you think it's not the right filter system but now we're doing a target marketing debate and not one of ethics.


We're moving past allowing this kind of manipulation and distortion of reality.

It's more a question of "proper" filtering, not "no" filtering.

For instance, if a PhD program only accepted white male applicants, we'd find that unacceptable. If instead, they only accepted people with proper credentials, scores, and recommendations, we'd find that fine. It's not no filter, just the right one.

Similarly, if we were making a movie about Jim Crow segregation and needed actors to play white racist men then our same unacceptable filter all of a sudden looks reasonable.

So it's not about removing filters, it's about making them justifiable and relevant. That's why we say "there's no reason that a qualified X can't be a Y", that part, the reason part, is important.


So...does that mean ugly people are going to be star actors too?

In some ways we are, in others not. I think there is great value discussing such things abstractly, in no small part because it can minimize personal biases and rivalries.

Yes there is a sentiment against TV shows and magazines doing such things, but many shows and magazines continue the practises today.

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