Social media app TikTok issued a public apology after a “technical glitch” made it look like videos captioned with #BlackLivesMatter and #GeorgeFloyd had no views.
“We acknowledge and apologize to our Black creators and community who have felt unsafe, unsupported or suppressed,” wrote TikTok’s US general manager, Vanessa Pappas, and director of creator community, Kudzi Chikumbu, in a blog post on Monday, June 1. “We don’t ever want anyone to feel that way. We welcome the voices of the Black community wholeheartedly.”
For those who missed it, George Floyd was a 46-year-old, unarmed black man who died in Minneapolis, MN, on May 25, after a police officer knelt on his neck for the same amount of time. The white officer — Derek Chauvin — did not move even as George repeatedly said “I can’t breathe,” as heard in a video captured by bystanders. The officer has since been arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
At first, some TikTok users claimed that this was an intentional act of censorship — something the company has been accused of and denied doing in the past — but the executive assured people that it was “a display issue only that widely affected hashtags at large.”
“Videos with these hashtags have currently generated well over two billion views, which is a testament to their importance to and resonance among our community. Nevertheless, we understand that many assumed this bug to be an intentional act to suppress the experiences and invalidate the emotions felt by the Black community. And we know we have work to do to regain and repair that trust,” the statement continued. “It’s important to us that nobody feels unwelcome, unheard, or unsafe on TikTok. We are inspired by our Black creators, artists, and partners who have touched so many people across the country and around the world. Without them, TikTok would not be the joyful and creative community we aspire to be.”
The app also told fans that on Tuesday, June 2, they would participate in #BlackoutTuesday and “turn off all playlists and campaigns on our Sounds page to observe a moment of reflection and action.”
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