Lingerie company accuses TikTok of removing videos of Black, plus-size models

Adore Me says their algorithm 'was built with very explicit discrimination against the overweight, the 'ugly,' the differently-abled, even the poor.'

Subscription lingerie service Adore Me accused the popular social media site TikTok of racism and fatphobia in a lengthy Twitter thread last week. 

“We’re taking a break from tweeting about lingerie today to have an important conversation about TikTok,” the company began Thursday. “The app’s algorithm was openly built with discrimination at its core. They’ve said it’s gotten better, but here’s what we’re seeing here at Adore Me.”

A screenshot of an Adore Me video on TikTok the lingerie company says was taken down from the social media site for discriminatory reasons.

“First of all, as a lingerie company, we understand that our products and marketing can push the boundaries of what’s allowed on social media platforms,” they tweeted. “That said, years of working with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest and the rest, have built-in general expectations around what is acceptable. Even within our own marketing teams, we are incredibly conscious about how we present our products to a general population.”

“TikTok,” they maintained, “is a different story.” 

Adore Me noted that TikTok is well-known for random content removal. 

“However, it’s been a very open secret,” they tweeted, “that the algorithm itself was built with very explicit discrimination against the overweight, the ‘ugly,’ the differently-abled, and even the poor.”

“Adore Me has regularly seen the removal of our content on TikTok that features plus-size, Black, and/or differently-abled models and women of color,” company officials wrote definitively. “This is unacceptable and discriminatory, and we will not stand for it.”

Read More: Texas pastors under fire for referring to Kamala Harris as racist trope

They shared several seemingly harmless videos that were removed from the site. 

“Adore Me’s mission has always pushed to make lingerie and fashion more inclusive. We work with models of all shapes, sizes, ethnicities, and backgrounds, and we refuse to change the models we work with to satisfy the hidden demands of the TikTok algorithm.” 

The company shared how plus-sized Grammy Award winner Lizzo has also said she has experienced having her swimwear videos inexplicably removed. 

Read More: Twitter thinks Jazmine Sullivan should’ve performed solo at Super Bowl

“TikTok keeps taking down my videos with me in my bathing suits,” the singer noted last year in a clip posted on the site. “But allows other videos with girls in bathing suits. I wonder why? TikTok … we need to talk.”

The clip has received millions of views on TikTok.

The Adore Me tweet thread ended with a single request: “It’s time to have an honest, open conversation about how the fastest-growing platform that has come to define fast-moving cultural trends (Ocean Spray, anyone?) chooses who to exclude and why.”

It was “signed” by “A fed-up Adore Me Team.” 

Read More: Crash involving Chiefs coach Britt Reid leaves 5-year-old in critical condition

TikTok hierarchy told USA Today it doesn’t moderate its content on the basis of appearance or ability. “The incredible diversity of our users is what makes TikTok such a unique place to create, share, and find community,” company spokesperson Jamie Favazza said.

“Let us be clear,” she added, “TikTok does not moderate content on the basis of shape, size or ability, and we continually take steps to strengthen our policies and promote body acceptance.” 

However, Adore Me staffers maintain that “the more these removals occur, the more we wonder if we’ll ever be able to grow on the platform — or if it’ll even matter, if TikTok continues to drive fat, Black, and/or differently-abled creators off the platform with its blatantly discriminatory algorithm.”

Have you subscribed to theGrio’s “Dear Culture” podcast? Download our newest episodes now!
TheGrio is now on Apple TV, Amazon Fire and Roku. Download today!