Hasan Piker, one of the most prolific TikTok and Twitch stars among a younger, left-leaning American political audience, was briefly banned from TikTok on Jan. 16, 2023, after a video he made was mass reported.
Mass reporting has been a go-to tool for people and groups that want certain individuals off TikTok. Whether it’s spiteful exes trying to get their exes banned, or conservatives mass-reporting leftist accounts, TikTok has seemingly become overrun with trolls looking to wreak havoc on accounts they don’t agree with.
Piker, who goes by Hasanabi on Twitch and is one of the most popular streamers on the platform with over 2.3 million followers, went live on Jan. 17, 2023, to discuss the ban.
“I immediately noticed [the ban], because it happens all the time,” he said. “It’s a bunch of fucking goobers sitting in a forum mass reporting or maybe even [getting bots to report] it. They do it all the time, and the problem is it doesn’t take that much.”
TikTok also banned Piker’s editor (@ostonox). While Piker said he was unbanned from the platform, his editor remains banned as of Jan. 17, 2023.
“They only unbanned me for some weird reason, they didn’t even unban me appropriately,” he said on the stream, referring to his lack of profile picture and bio on his now unbanned account.
Piker said the video that got him banned was a video about Black Lives Matter posted on Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Day. Piker said he was told by TikTok support the video was banned for “hateful behavior.”
“That process is absolute, 1 million percent, relegated to bots,” he said on Twitch. “There is not a human being that would look at that and go, ‘Oh, yeah, that is pretty hateful.’”
TikTok and Piker did not respond to a request for comment in time for the publication of this article.
Creators have complained about mass reporting for years, especially creators of color. Some large creators have seen their accounts be reinstated in a matter of days, especially if the reason for the ban was exceptionally obvious, but some have never regained access to their accounts.
TikTok uses artificial intelligence to moderate its platform, which appears easy to exploit as this instance shows. Human moderators are then supposedly tasked with reviewing each suspension and ban to respond to creator appeals. However, these reviews can take time and energy from creators, leaving them without an audience or views on the platform where they make a living.
According to the TikTok community guidelines, creators “involved in severe or repeated on-platform violations” will be suspended or banned, and the app sometimes considers “actions on other platforms and offline behavior” in its decisions. The Community Guidelines also state the app will remove any content that violates its guidelines, but “individuals are notified of our decisions and can appeal them if they believe no violation has occurred.”
TikTok does not publicly state how long a review may take, but other websites claim a review on the app can take anywhere from a few hours to a few days, and it could be weeks or months before TikTok makes a final decision on an account or video being banned—leaving creators in the dark and possibly without income for a long time.
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*First Published: Jan 17, 2023, 5:11 pm CST
Jacob Seitz is a freelance journalist originally from Columbus, Ohio, interested in the intersection of culture and politics.