Man Calls Out TikTok's Homophobic 'Community Guidelines' After They Took Down Video Of Him Kissing His Boyfriend
A man asked the question:
"What happens when a man kisses his boyfriend at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve and posts it on the video-sharing social network, TikTok?"
Mark Pasetsky—who goes by Marknewyork on TikTok—found out the answer when he shared something millions of others do at the start of a new year: a kiss with the person they love.
According to an article Pasetsky wrote for Campaign US, when the kiss is between two men, the post is removed because "it's a violation of the platform's community guidelines."
"When I saw the notification on my profile, I was flooded with feelings of shame and alienation."
Here is the video loaded to TikTok.
Just a standard kiss to ring in the New Year.
In fact, it's really quite chaste.
For the former editor in chief of Life & Style and managing editor of OK! Magazine, a double standard needed to be addressed.
"After being out of the closet for 24 years, I knew I needed to take action for myself and for the entire LGBTQ community."
"In a world where bullying is rampant, the relatively new platform that already reaches 60 million active monthly users in the US must support the equal and fair treatment of LGBTQ users and all diverse communities."
"Most importantly, think about a teenager going through the same experience of having their video removed because they simply kissed their same-sex partner. Imagine how devastating it would feel when a popular social network tells them it's not okay to be who they are. Many would be too afraid to speak up and would not know how to respond to this type of discrimination."
For members of marginalized communities, being seen and seeing others like themselves can boost their self esteem. For people not part of those communities, this representation can create an unconscious familiarity and normalization of people unlike themselves.
As people of color began to appear in commercials and on television, there was some backlash. Some stations even banned the content or censored it out of programs.
But studies showed direct links between these inclusive media campaigns and increased support for equality for POC by members outside their community. Familiarity doesn't always breed contempt; sometimes it breeds empathy and understanding.
Pasetsky knew equal inclusion in social media was no different.
"That's why I chose to take action – for those who cannot."
"I started by filing a support ticket and then tweeted the company."
When the steps most people take did not yield results, Pasetsky put his extensive experience with media and PR to work.
"Finally, I emailed TikTok's public relations department."
"After explaining that I was writing a piece on the video being removed and demanding answers, my request was quickly forwarded to the moderation team."
"Within two hours, TikTok re-activated my video and let me know it had been incorrectly removed due to human error."
But that excuse wasn't working for Pasetsky.
The social media company previously admitted to removing and suppressing content from LGBTQ users. They claimed it was an attempt to minimize bullying on the site, not by eliminating bullies but by eliminating potential targets.
However censoring and restricting the lives of those being attacked or that they suspect might be attacked is not the appropriate response to bullying in life or on social media.
Whatever the ultimate reason for the removal of his video, Pasetsky wrote that the reinstatement of it on TikTok should not be the end.
"The removal of my New Year's Eve video makes the urgent case for a full internal evaluation of TikTok's policies and moderation practices. A number of tough questions need to be answered."
"If this decision was based on human error, who was the human? How does TikTok make hiring decisions for moderation positions? Is diversity represented on these teams? What about across the organization as a whole? And, most importantly, what will the company do to prevent a repeat of this experience?"
He concluded by stating the removal was not a simple mistake but rather an example of a microaggression.
"The bottom line is we can't allow a social media platform to commit discriminatory micro-aggressions against any community."
Microagressions are the death by a thousand cuts of bigotry and bias.
To those outside an affected community, a microaggression can be easily dismissed as no big deal. Why complain about such a small thing when there are bigger fish to fry?
However studies show these minor offenses lay the ground work for the larger ones.
The Black person who is told they're "so articulate" or the Asian told they speak English so well when it is their first language or the Hispanic person born and raised in the United States questioned about where they are from or the gay man who is told he doesn't "sound gay" are all examples of microagressions. Each one also indicates an implicit bias or sterotype, painting Black people as less intelligent, Asians and Hispanics as foreigners and gay men as speaking in a certain way.
Pasestsky urged others to also speak out.
"TikTok needs to continue to be called out for biased practices. It's critical that the company understands its responsibility to create a safe and welcoming environment for all."
In an email interview with Pasetsky, we asked:
"In your article, you address TikTok with questions about diversity and next steps. If you could create specific next steps for them, what would they be?"
"I would suggest TikTok partner with a respected LGBTQ organization to conduct an extensive review of the social media platform's moderation policies."
"I would also suggest holding diversity and inclusivity training for all members of the organization - especially those responsible for moderating posts on TikTok, as well as reviewing overall hiring practices to make sure members of all diverse communities are represented."
"In addition, a new set of community guidelines need to demonstrate how TikTok will be more welcoming to the LGBTQ and all diverse communities going forward."
"Invariably, people respond to these microaggressions by pointing to 'bigger issues.' What would you say about why addressing microaggressions is important?"
"We need to address microaggressions to let companies like TikTok know it's not okay to censor anybody for who they are. It's important to remember that these microaggressions can be deeply harmful to the individuals that receive them and therefore are equally as important as addressing the 'bigger issues'."
"If we continue to address microagressions in real-time, we will prevent what I see as TikTok's anti-gay bias from becoming an acceptable global policy for the social media platform. The bottom line is that it's not okay for a company like TikTok to censor a same-sex video and hide behind the 'human error' excuse when it's really a microaggression."
"You refer to the documented anti-LGBTQ bias [on TikTok]. Are there other social media platforms that are problematic?"
"To date, I've only personally experienced this anti-LGBTQ bias on TikTok."
"You mention bullying and young people who are still finding their way in life as motivation to pursue this with TikTok to an acceptable resolution. What would you like to say to those younger people about this situation or about anything else?"
"As a video platform, TikTok provides its users a unique opportunity to be expressive. Keep being exactly who you are and show the world who you are."
"Posts of same-sex kisses like mine need to be embraced and supported on platforms like TikTok. Stand up for yourself when you feel like you have been unfairly censored!"
"For anybody else that feels they have been censored by TikTok for being themselves, I strongly support them in speaking up. They can reach me on Twitter @markpasetsky and I'll do what I can to continue to support the LGBTQ or any diverse community that feels they were unfairly treated."
"Is there anything else you'd like to say? Any points you want to expand on?"
"With Valentine's Day coming up, let's send a powerful message to TikTok and the world. Give a big kiss to your same-sex partner and post the video to TikTok. Let's show them we are out and proud of our loving relationships!"
Valentine's Day is just around the corner. Mark Pasetsky's suggestion sounds like a great way to celebrate love, diversity and representation.
In a wonderful example of how coming out can go right, Good Girls character Sadie (Isaiah Stannard) came out to his mom after finding out his baby brother had been born.
After Sadie's mom Annie (Mae Whitman) assists her ex-husband's new wife, Nancy (Sally Pressman) with delivering her baby, she goes upstairs to check on Sadie.
After uttering the phrase "it's a boy," Annie goes to leave the room to take a shower but Sadie stops her.
After a poignant pause, Sadie says:
"So am I."
Annie's reaction is what has Twitter feeling all emotional. She pauses for a beat and begins to smile, then gives Sadie a hug.
Season 2, Episode 8: Sadie Reveals a Truth to Annie - Good Girls (Sneak Peek) youtu.be
There's no tears, or questions of "are you sure?" or "why would you do this to me?" that are all-too-common in other coming out portrayals. Just unconditional love and acceptance.
Good Girls tells the story of a trio of suburban moms who hold up a local grocery store after life leaves them little other option. The show follows them as they deal with the fallout of their crime, and the effect it has on their relationships.
There was, understandably, quite an emotional response to the episode on Twitter.
S O B B I N G AT SADIE COMING OUT AS TRANS ON GOOD GIRLS. WHAT A GOOD SCENE— samantha 🌸 (@samantha 🌸)1555971517.0
this last episode of Good Girls made me wanna cry i love sadie sm n want to protecc him— gay barrymore (@gay barrymore)1555990415.0
@NBCGoodGirls Here’s a coming out we all can love! 🌈♥️🌈♥️🌈♥️🌈♥️🌈♥️🌈‼️— Pat Musick (@Pat Musick)1555977213.0
The visible (and oh-so-positive) representation of trans guys on television meant a lot to folks.
@NBCGoodGirls I’ve wanted you guys to go this route with sadie’s character since the 1st season but I never thought… https://t.co/8ewCpx1ODc— ᵃʳᵉˢ (@ᵃʳᵉˢ)1556051418.0
@NBCGoodGirls As a trans person who’s been watching the show since day one, this was such a beautiful and important… https://t.co/Fdy9bFtwvF— Juliana (@Juliana)1555937154.0
As GLAAD points out, this is the kind of loving response every child deserves.
Awww… this sweet scene on @NBCGoodGirls ❤️ Every trans child deserves the loving response that Sadie receives fro… https://t.co/m3JZtpf4J2— GLAAD (@GLAAD)1555947273.0
This clip from Good Girls shows just how easy it is to show your trans kid you love them. https://t.co/9PBb9B1aQQ— Zack Ford (@Zack Ford)1556024267.0
Unfortunately, that isn't the reality for many trans folks.
okay so i was watching good girls and the son just came out as trans (totally called it) and his mom just smiled an… https://t.co/kuPHRM7hDN— grayson izekiel (@grayson izekiel)1555901970.0
@ethanshawkes nah i don’t mind it. it’s kind of nice to have an accepting parent for once shown on tv. that way the… https://t.co/oNmiCDes6A— grayson izekiel (@grayson izekiel)1555903181.0
Trans representation in media is nearly non-existant, especially for transmasculine folks.
If there is a trans character in a show or film, they are almost always played by a cisgender actor.
Sadie, a transmasculine character, being played by a transmasculine actor, Isaiah Stannard, is an amazing step forward for the entertainment industry.
It's an exciting step for many.
anyways watch Good Girls for a show where a trans actor plays a trans person— tash⚢ 26.4 (@tash⚢ 26.4)1556008994.0
Isaiah posted to Instagram to thank fans for watching, and for their supportive comments.
If you haven't checked out Good Girls yet, you can watch it Sundays at 10 p.m. eastern on NBC.
All new emojis must be approved by the Unicode Consortium, which often receives submissions from companies like Apple and Google on what the next emojis should be. In a victory for the disabled and LGBTQ+ communities, the Consortium has announced 2019's new emojis will include many symbols centered around inclusion.
230 new emoji released in move to make characters more inclusive https://t.co/yQZpjcKplz https://t.co/Z5gt35EtTj— ITV News (@ITV News)1549456458.0
NEW EMOJI: Next batch of emoji includes people with #disabilities, guide dog https://t.co/CX7LazZd0r What else wou… https://t.co/jkk47ladVe— Lane Luckie (@Lane Luckie)1549450800.0
Apple requested last year that the list of emojis include more diverse, inclusive symbols.
Their request was definitely heard!
Last year, Apple asked for more inclusive emoji to represent people with disabilities, and now The Keepers of the E… https://t.co/50vGquXdOE— Vlad Savov (@Vlad Savov)1549411113.0
The Unicode Consortium has announced its final list of approved emoji for this year. The new batch of emoji include… https://t.co/Ex1QPg9wy4— Daniel Fleshbourne (@Daniel Fleshbourne)1549442765.0
Other new emojis include a computer, a planet, and... AN OTTER!
New emojis approved in #emoji12 will come to operating systems (iOS, Android, Windows), apps (WhatsApp) and web pla… https://t.co/s0uvG1idMS— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia 📙)1549397892.0
But the big ticket items among emoji lovers have definitely been the guide-dogs, deaf individuals, and non-binary couples.
✅ Approved in #emoji12: Guide Dog https://t.co/CmxJuQQ2dt https://t.co/iNJ3801EUF— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia 📙)1549406419.0
✅ Approved in #emoji12: Man With Probing Cane https://t.co/07pUddbzeh https://t.co/xCDLIIeFQB— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia 📙)1549409083.0
✅ Approved in #emoji12: Manual Wheelchair https://t.co/m5l7plNTzY https://t.co/2N1epGOKHv— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia 📙)1549410936.0
✅ Approved in #emoji12: Ear With Hearing Aid https://t.co/JVWXvLpsat https://t.co/zRhowm9yj6— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia 📙)1549414728.0
✅ Approved in #emoji12: Deaf Man https://t.co/UKgIdSdSar https://t.co/wgcx70xaTd— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia 📙)1549417976.0
The new emojis feature non-binary couples with almost any mix of races.
✅ Approved in #emoji12: People Holding Hands. Gender neutral / gender inclusive, with mixed skin tone support… https://t.co/z3KjsYSh48— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia 📙)1549424818.0
✅ Approved in #emoji12: Mixed Skin Tone Support for Men Holding Hands (👬) https://t.co/APoF9en9Em— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia 📙)1549433936.0
✅ Approved in #emoji12: Mixed Skin Tone Support for Women Holding Hands (👭) https://t.co/fbcfKmAiPa— Emojipedia 📙 (@Emojipedia 📙)1549432693.0
While these steps are definitely important, many Twitter users were most excited about a certain other emoji...
More excited than I should be about the incoming addition of this emoji. But more amazing news is that accessibili… https://t.co/ivNeefM6X5— Uma Kumaran (@Uma Kumaran)1549457452.0
There are non-binary people represented in the 2019 emoji! Also wheelchair users, service dogs, and even more impor… https://t.co/k79YG2Nqou— Laurie Voss (@Laurie Voss)1549423733.0
@seldo My non-binary service otter will be so pleased!— Marion Cotesworth-Haye (@Marion Cotesworth-Haye)1549423859.0
@unicode Finally https://t.co/89vVEfVW9r— Niklas Fauth (@Niklas Fauth)1549399341.0
In general, social media was glad to see a new, more inclusive set of emojis.
LOOK AT ALL THE NEW DISABILITY EMOJI!!!!! THIS IS GOOD! https://t.co/uEkVkNzOWo— Kaise // Any pronouns (@Kaise // Any pronouns)1549447568.0
@LaneLuckie I need nothing ever again because THAT'S ! MY ! DOG !!!! https://t.co/hwQjn3NaQr— Dovi Appreciation Account (@Dovi Appreciation Account)1549503961.0
The new emojis should become available along with an upcoming software update. Congratulations to Apple and the Unicode Consortium for taking steps to improve disabled and LGBTQ+ representation!
'Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse' Is Inspiring People To Create #Spidersonas Of Themselves—And They're Empowering AF 🕷
The outpouring of love from fans for the recently released Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse has been overwhelming. The latest trend among fans is designing personalized spider-verse character and sharing them with the hashtag #spidersona.
People are putting a lot of thought into their characters and the art is amazing. The characters reflect each designer, resulting in a colorful and diverse assortment of spider-people.
Here are some of our favorites.
idk if spidersonas a thing but i just saw #IntoTheSpiderVerse and i got the idea of "well since theres different di… https://t.co/qkCHNHC8SA— I'm a mouse, duh (@I'm a mouse, duh)1544831728.0
if peter parker can make adaptive tech to help him fling webs, I can have adaptive tech to stabilize my joints while I fight crime— ☠♿Hotwheels Broder♿☠ (@☠♿Hotwheels Broder♿☠)1545628989.0
I just,,,wanted to try something;; 🤧 https://t.co/LzJPZZOl1f— ❄️Fara (@❄️Fara)1545409887.0
So since Spider-Verse deals with Spider-people from multiple dimension, I thought it would be fun to make my own… https://t.co/V36QUtFPAh— ⛧ JD ⛧ (@⛧ JD ⛧)1544836650.0
I like memes and fuzzy spiders. Hello, it me: Spider-Franq. I’m always cold, always fuzzy, fat and adorable. I’ll l… https://t.co/pL28oI3Kel— 🎅🏽Naomi Franqlinator🎄 (@🎅🏽Naomi Franqlinator🎄)1545704674.0
Not so much a #spidersona but kind of just a fun #spidersonas design. Fiddle backs - Brown Recluses - are a definit… https://t.co/jTAfrc8fvM— ♛❄️Yule Queen Gael❄️ (@♛❄️Yule Queen Gael❄️)1545705324.0
So I found out about #Spidersonas and though I cannot draw, I decided to use Heromachine 3 to make a Spider-Person.… https://t.co/C5AmgrPaJB— (((Glides AKA Thirt Jops))) (@(((Glides AKA Thirt Jops))))1545696645.0
So I got inspired by @hateehateeyo awesome spider-verse character. It's a rough sketch but this Spider-man is base… https://t.co/1t6pHwf0M9— Andrew (@Andrew)1545664169.0
Saw #spidermanintothespiderverse and it was amazing!!! This is my #spidersona 🕷️🕸️ https://t.co/tWA6W35VJ3— Nicolas (@Nicolas)1545644943.0
My spidersona 😈 https://t.co/RsvdRb4VEL— Denise Zhang (@Denise Zhang)1545653645.0
The Spiderwoman we needed #spidersona #Spiderman https://t.co/Y4hGUqiyvq— LucyBreeze 🌖Moonchild🌔 (@LucyBreeze 🌖Moonchild🌔)1545653379.0
Spiderlynx?! Made a quick spidersona based on Green Lynx Spiders! (the pink variety!) #Spidersona 🕷️ https://t.co/eYSrC7N4qj— Alex-mas ⚔ XLLNN @Komiket'19 (@Alex-mas ⚔ XLLNN @Komiket'19)1545658555.0
My #spidersona is based off of a Chilean Rose-haired Tarantula. I’ve also done a commissioned design of a neon lil… https://t.co/6MuZaiv6kr— Katy 🦔 (@Katy 🦔)1545656075.0
whoops my hand slipped- #spidersona https://t.co/cBqB4bnGQN— ✦ 𝕭𝖆𝖇𝖘 𝕿𝖆𝖗𝖗 ✦ (@✦ 𝕭𝖆𝖇𝖘 𝕿𝖆𝖗𝖗 ✦)1545616039.0
If you want to jump on the spidersona train, make sure to use #spidersona when you share!