TikTok has been restricting content made by "unattractive" and "poor" users

TikTok has been restricting content made by "unattractive" and "poor" users

TikTok allegedly conducted its staff to suppress circulation on videos featuring "ugly" or "poor" creators. 

That's according to a report from The Intercept, which discovered that certain videos on the app were not being promoted equally. 

The report shows snippets from the leaked documents, which showed TikTok's intent to ban or restrict people with an "abnormal body shape" or "ugly facial looks". It also highlights signs that a creator may be poor, with red flags including poor housing, old-style decoration or visible household damage.

A full version of the document can be seen over at The Intercept. A particular paragraph from the new rules stated that if the user or their surroundings fall under any of the above, the video will be "less attractive" and "not worth recommending to new users".

A spokesperson from TikTok confirmed that these tactics were once in place but as an "early blunt attempt at preventing bullying”. They also confirmed that these tactics are not in place anymore.

"Blunt and temporary policy"

This isn't the first time that TikTok has restricted a certain demographic. Last year, the platform was rightly under fire for suppressing disabled users under the same flimsy guise of "preventing bullying". 

At the time, a TikTok spokesperson called the move a "blunt and temporary policy" created to tackle bullying on the app in the short term. 

“While the intention was good, the approach was wrong and we have long since changed the earlier policy in favor of more nuanced anti-bullying policies and in-app protections," the spokesperson told The Verge last December. 

And while the platform has since retired these methods of filtering and promoting content, its grim to discover that they ever existed in the first place.


Danielle Partis is editor of and former editor of She was named Journalist of the Year at the MCV Women in Games Awards 2019, as well as in the MCV 30 under 30 2020. Prior to Steel Media, she wrote about music and games at Team Rock.