TikTok bans crypto content, while influencers seek other platforms

    28 Aug 2021

    After TikTok changed its policies, many TikTok cryptocurrency content creators, who claim they are trying to educate consumers, say their posts are getting censored and taken down for violating community guidelines on TikTok. Some crypto influencers are considering moving to rival platforms.

    As CNBC reported, at least 11 creators, who have posted educational crypto videos, said their content was getting flagged or taken down permanently with little explanation from TikTok. Some accounts were also getting temporarily banned.

    Most of the influencers told CNBC they haven’t get paid to promote any crypto content on TikTok in the last few weeks, and their video views and new followers have fallen since July.

    The guidelines have been updated last December, when the company updated its branded content policy, barring the promotion of financial services, including crypto, unless users mark it as a branded content in the app. Later, in July, TikTok implemented a system that can automatically block videos violating its policies, and creators say the takedowns ramped up.

    Creators said, in recent weeks, they can’t use words like “Binance,” “decentralized finance,” or specific coins like Bitcoin or Ethereum in a video without it getting removed. The consensus among users is that those words alert the algorithm, leading to an automatic takedown or review.

    After videos are pulled from TikTok, the creators say they get a notification that they violated community guidelines. Sometimes it notes that they posted content related to “illegal activities and regulated goods,” but the message doesn’t offer specifics. If they get two videos taken down, they might be banned from posting content from a day to a week.

    When the creators reach out to TikTok about an account ban or pulled video, most say they have been ignored or sent an automated response. Often TikTok declined to comment on the reports from creators. Instead, a spokesperson usually pointed to TikTok’s community guidelines page without specifying which guidelines were violating. There’s no phone number to call, no representative to email; however, some creators say when they appeal the takedown, TikTok reinstates many videos.

    Some of the creators told CNBC they are considering shifting from TikTok to rival platforms, such as Google-owned YouTube, Twitter, Facebook’s Instagram, and Discord, where they have more freedom to share content.

    “It’s the fact that TikTok is shadow banning and censoring crypto content creators, and a lot of us are posting great educational pieces,” said a cryptocurrency influencer Wendy O.

    But some admit that going viral overnight on TikTok significantly exceeds the engagement on any other platform. As TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, some experts suggest that the company might be under pressure from the Chinese government to apply these strict guidelines. In May, China banned financial institutions and payment companies from providing crypto-related services. Many Bitcoin mining services ceased operations in China and were forced to shut down or move business outside of the country.

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