Chinese communist government-tied TikTok is at it again temporarily banning accounts. This time the platform targeted a pro-woman and pro-free speech account.
Independent Women's Forum (IWF) told MRC Free Speech America that TikTok banned its account on Feb. 12. The organization appealed and the platform restored the account 48 hours later. It’s unclear why TikTok banned IWF, but even a short-lived ban can be impactful.
“Our message and our account, which is one of personal real-life stories, was censored because it did not fit the mold of the Left and was so easily taken down without conversation or reasoning,” IWF Marketing Director Adriana McLamb said. “This was after we reached millions of views and tens of thousands of followers who aligned with our message.”
McLamb said TikTok gave “no explanation, no reasoning for why” it banned IWF’s account. “We were not given a specific reason or video as to why but only that we were in violation of their policies and ‘permanently banned,’” she said.
It’s unclear whether any particular content triggered the ban, but many of the organization’s videos work to expose the transgender narrative. Two of its more recent videos featured Riley Gaines, an outspoken advocate for banning transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports, and Chloe Cole who refers to herself as a “former trans kid.”
McLamb addressed how censorship blocks organizations from entering online conversations and debunking false narratives. Censorship “ultimately is cultivating an echo chamber environment where the audience is influenced to agree with [the] opposing narrative as it is the only one they hear or see,” she said. “Luckily, this time we appealed and won, but it showed us how easily our voice can be stripped from the narrative due to Big Tech."
This is not the first time Big Tech has censored IWF. Last October, YouTube restricted IWF from creating ads promoting its "Identity Crisis" series interviewing women who transitioned to appear as men and then detransitioned. The platform claimed at least one of the videos was "not eligible" under the "Health in personalized advertising" policy. The platform, however, reportedly allowed Planned Parenthood to create cartoon ads that pushed for puberty blockers.
TikTok has a history of “permanently” banning users only to lift the ban shortly thereafter. MRC Free Speech America previously found that the platform had “permanently banned” 11 pro-free speech accounts. Six of those accounts were later restored with little to no explanation. TikTok did not respond to MRC Free Speech America’s request for comment at the time of publishing.
Independent Women’s Forum is a member of the Free Speech Alliance.
Contributing Writer and Researcher Bethany Kawalec contributed to this report.
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