TikTok allegedly protects Amazon accounts to preserve advertising relationship

Some moderators were advised not to take negative action against over 60 Amazon-related accounts due to Amazon being a significant advertiser on TikTok.

e-commerce, Tik Tok,phone

According to internal communications seen by The Guardian, TikTok staff have allegedly been instructed not to flag potential problems on Amazon accounts to protect the platform’s lucrative commercial relationship with the e-commerce giant.

Moderators were reportedly advised not to take adverse action against over 60 Amazon-related accounts because Amazon is a major advertiser on TikTok. Tagging or removing these accounts could harm the platform’s relationship with Amazon. TikTok denies this is an official company policy and claims their community guidelines treat all content equally.

However, The Guardian’s investigation has revealed evidence suggesting that specific creators and accounts have been given preferential treatment, going against TikTok’s official guidelines. The internal communications indicate that Amazon accounts were exempt from moderation due to Amazon’s status as the highest-paying advertiser on TikTok.

Why does it matter?

The investigation has also found that other unnamed companies are on a protected list, leading moderators to be cautious about tagging similar corporate accounts. This raises concerns about fairness, transparency, and potential abuse of power in TikTok’s moderation practices.

The investigation also highlights the significant influence of TikTok, with over a billion users worldwide and growing importance as a news source, particularly among young adults. Amazon, the largest spender on digital advertising in the US, allocated $1.4 billion to digital advertising in 2022. Critics argue that privileging certain users’ speech over others is unfair and undermines public discourse. The lack of oversight and transparency in platform decision-making processes is also problematic, potentially leading to decisions that may not serve the public interest.