TikTok pulls 49 million 'inappropriate' videos over six months

TikTok says it has removed millions of videos. Credit: PA
  • Article by ITV News Trainee Fred Dimbleby

Video sharing app TikTok removed more than 49 million videos in the second half of last year because they violated community guidelines.

The figures, newly released by the company, give a detailed snapshot of its enforcement policies showing that it removed around one percent of videos in the second half of last year.

The UK had two million videos removed in the time period, ranking fourth in the world for the company.

India, which recently banned TikTok along with 58 other Chinese phone apps, had the most videos removed with more 16 million taken down.

The new figures come after scrutiny of some of the video content on the app.

Earlier this year, ITV News discovered dozens of videos that appeared to violate the app’s terms of use including drug misuse, overly sexual content and law breaking activity.

TikTok recently said it was going to pull out of Hong Kong. Credit: PA/AP

The figures released today also show how the company polices content on the platform.

Just over 98% of videos were taken down by the company before any user reported them, and 89% were taken down before any user had seem them.

It means that only 1.8% of video removal occurred due to reports by users.

The report also provides a snapshot for the reasons that videos are removed.

In December 2019, TikTok changed its content moderation system and provided reasons for most of the videos removed in that month.

One-quarter were removed because of adult nudity and sexual activities, while another quarter were removed because of violations of the company’s minor safety policies.

These include videos with minors taking part in "harmful, dangerous or illegal behaviour" as well as "serious" content.

TikTok said it takes “immediate action to remove, terminate accounts, and report to NCMEC and law enforcement as appropriate”.

The other reasons given for removing content included videos containing illegal activities and regulated goods, which made up 21.5% of takedowns, while 15.6% were removed for violating the company’s suicide, self-harm and dangerous acts policy.

The other causes were videos which were violent graphic, videos which included harassment and bullying, and videos that included hate speech or violated policies on integrity and authenticity.

TikTok has amassed millions of users. Credit: PA

The company has also released data on the number of requests for content removal or information made by law enforcement.

It received around 500 legal requests from governments in the second half of 2019, the majority of which came from India, these included requests for information about users and their activity on the app.

In the UK, they received 10 requests of which they produced data for 20%.

They also received 45 requests from 10 governments for removal of content, with 30 coming from India.

There were no requests from the UK.

Both totals represent a increase in requests from the first half of 2019.