By Alex Hern, The Guardian, September 2019

TikTok’s efforts to provide locally sensitive moderation have resulted in it banning any content that could be seen as positive to gay people or gay rights, down to same-sex couples holding hands, even in countries where homosexuality has never been illegal, the Guardian can reveal.

The rules were applied on top of the general moderation guidelines, first reported by the Guardian on Wednesday, which included a number of clauses that banned speech that touched on topics sensitive to China, including Tiananmen Square, Tibet and Falun Gong. ByteDance, the Beijing-based company that owns TikTok, says the moderation guidelines were replaced in May.

As well as the general moderation guidelines, described as the “loose version” to moderators, TikTok ran at least two other sets.

One, the “strict” guidelines, were used in countries with conservative moral codes, and contained a significantly more restrictive set of rules concerning nudity and vulgarity, which ban, for instance, “partially naked buttocks”, exposed cleavage with “a length of more than 1/3 of the whole cleavage length”, and lengthy depictions of sanitary pads.

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