TikTok, the new kid on the block, the wonderchild of social media, is the one platform that governments are adamantly against… Yes, in today’s article, we’ll go through TikTok’s account removal history and see what the platform has been doing lately.
There’s going to be a lot to unpack, so you better grab a seat and prepare. TikTok has been removing content left and right in the past three years. We’re going to focus on the 2020-2022 period since this is what’s available online.
But first, some general stats:
- In Q3 2022, the main reason for video removal was “Minor safety“, accounting for 43% of the removed content
- In Q3 2022, about 20 million TikTok accounts were permanently removed because it was suspected that children under 13 operated them
- The rate of proactive content removal (removing a piece of content before someone reports it) has increased substantially from 2020 to 2022
- In January-June 2022, TikTok received 2,714 government requests for account or content removal or restriction
- In January-June 2022, TikTok received 94,267 copyright removal reports and 12,392 trademark removal reports
Alright, we’ll go into more detail about these stats below, so be sure to check out the charts and my commentaries on the subject. It’ll be quite interesting to see the problems that TikTok is dealing with with their account removal stats.
Total Accounts Removed from Q3 2020 to Q3 2022
First, we’ll have a look at the total number of accounts that TikTok removed from the platform starting in Q3 2020 and going all the way until Q3 2022, a full two-year period. See below:
|Q3 2020||Q4 2020||Q1 2021||Q2 2021||Q3 2021||Q4 2021||Q1 2022||Q2 2022||Q3 2022|
|Accounts suspected to be under the age of 13||920,793||3,515,238 million||7,263,952 million||11,205,597 million||12,513,729 million||15,383,165 million||20,219,476 million||20,575,056 million||19,690,699 million|
|Fake accounts||2,409,163 million||1,653,892 million||1,728,621 million||6,077,046 million||20,890,519 million||33,632,058 million||50,963,108 million|
|Other accounts||704,023||974,454||1,476,399 million||2,093,045 million||2,763,476 million||2,647,105 million||3,328,993 million||5,222,968 million||5,782,574 million|
Those are quite the numbers, especially when it comes to the “Fake Accounts” policy that TikTok didn’t seem to have back in Q3 2020. Both in Q3 and Q4 2020, they didn’t ban any fake accounts, and I doubt it’s because there weren’t any.
Perhaps starting with Q1 2021, they either created the policy or changed it, leading to a whole 2.4 million fake accounts being removed.
From that initial 2.4 million fake accounts removed in Q1 2021, the number went up to 50.9 million in Q3 2022, a mind-blowing 2,015% increase
Over time, the number of removed accounts suspected to be under the age of 13 has also increased substantially, from 920,793 in Q3 2020 to 19,690,699 million, a whopping 2,038% increase.
Lastly, the number of “Other accounts” removed from the platform has gone up by 721% from 704,023 to 5,782,574 million.
These numbers paint a grim but otherwise expected picture – the more popular TikTok becomes, the more rampant account removals are, largely for justified reasons like under-13 users or fake accounts. From what I noticed, this is parred for the course for every major social media platform in existence.
Video Removal Stats Q3 2020 to Q3 2022
I’ll be splitting this section into multiple parts since there’s much to be said, including the:
- Total number of removed videos (by automation or otherwise)
- Total number of restored videos
- Total number of removed videos by policies and sub-policies
- The removal rate of accounts
- Removal volume and rates by country
- Fake engagement removal (likes, follower requests, etc.)
- Spam account removal
I’ll prepare multiple charts below, showing all of these stats, with commentaries under each one, so keep reading.
Total Number of Removed & Restored Videos in Q3 2020 to Q3 2022
Below, you’ll see a chart of all the removed and restored videos from TikTok between Q3 2020 to Q3 2022, with details about the methods by which the videos were removed and the total percentage of videos removed from the total that were published.
|Quarter||Total Number Removed||Total Number Restored||Removed by Automation||% Removed of Total Videos Published|
|July-September 2020||43,086,543 million||1,315,135 million||3,370,913 million||0.6%|
|October-December 2020||46,112,104 million||1,612,146 million||4,923,971 million||0.6%|
|January-March 2021||61,951,327 million||2,833,837 million||8,832,345 million||0.8%|
|April-June 2021||82,518,334 million||4,663,387 million||16,957,950 million||1%|
|July-September 2021||91,445,802 million||5,535,378 million||31,009,160 million||1%|
|October-December 2021||85,794,222 million||4,727,382 million||28,389,936 million||0.9%|
|January-March 2022||102,305,516 million||5,025,536 million||34,726,592 million||0.9%|
|April-June 2022||113,809,300 million||5,896,218 million||48,011,571 million||1%|
|July-September 2022||110,954,663 million||6,937,997 million||52,287,839 million||0.9%|
As you would expect, the numbers went up by a lot, nearly tripling the total number of videos removed from Q3 2020 to Q3 2022 (a total increase of 157.5%).
As for accounts restored, that number went up by 427%, which goes to show that TikTok isn’t just removing accounts but also restoring them, and quite a lot of them.
Finally, the number of accounts removed through automation (TikTok’s algorithm) went up by a staggering 1,451%. This could mean one of two things:
- The number of offenders grew up considerably, so the algorithm simply banned more people as a natural course
- TikTok improved its algorithm and added multiple offenses, which means that people who previously got away from the algorithm’s screening were now in the crosshairs
Most likely, both of these things took place. As TikTok grew, so did the number of offenders, and TikTok had to update its algorithm as well with new violation policies and sub-policies.
All in all, TikTok removed a grand total of 737,977,811 million videos in 2 years, from Q3 2020 to Q3 2022, with a median percentage of videos removed from total videos published of 0.85% (for the entire duration – one year).
Total Videos Removed by Policy Q3 2020 to Q3 2022
Another interesting stat to look at is the number of videos removed based on the policies they violated (and there are a lot of policies).
See the chart below for more information:
|Integrity & Authenticity||Violent Extremism||Hateful Behavior||Suicide, Self-Harm & Dangerous Acts||Harassment & Bullying||Violent & Graphic Content||Adult Nudity & Sexual Activities||Illegal Activities & Regulated Goods||Minor Safety|
|July – September 2020||1.5%||0.2%||1.6%||5.9%||4.9%||7.7%||21.3%||15.8%||41%|
|October – December 2020||3.1%||0.4%||2.5%||6.5%||8.2%||8.6%||19.7%||19.8%||31.2%|
|January – March 2021||2%||0.5%||2.3%||5.7%||8%||8%||15.6%||21.1%||36.8%|
|April – June 2021||0.8%||1%||2.2%||5.3%||6.8%||7.7%||14%||20.9%||41.3%|
|July – September 2021||0.5%||0.9%||1.5%||5.7%||5.3%||7.4%||11.1%||16.6%||51%|
|October – December 2021||0.6%||0.8%||1.5%||7.4%||5.7%||8.5%||10.9%||19.5%||45.1%|
|January – March 2021||0.6%||0.7%||1.6%||6.7%||6%||9.6%||11.3%||21.8%||41.7%|
|April – June 2021||0.7%||0.9%||1.7%||6.1%||5.7%||9.3%||10.7%||21.2%||43.7%|
|July – September 2021||0.7%||1%||2%||6.5%||5.9%||9.3%||10.7%||21%||42.9%|
In some cases, certain violations decreased in number while in other cases, they increased, like see with the “Suicide, self-harm and dangerous acts“, “Violent and graphic content“, “Illegal activities and regulated goods“, and “Minor Safety” violations.
It seems that more and more people are violating those policies, prompting TikTok to remove their videos. Nothing to be surprised about here, honestly.
Next, we’ll be looking at the removal rate for videos on the platform, with an emphasis on proactive removal (removing the video before it’s reported), removal before any views, and removal within 24 hours (within 24 hours of the video being posted).
Removal Rate of TikTok Videos by Policy and Quarter
|Removal Within 24 Hours||Proactive Removal||Removal Before Any Views|
|July – September 2020||93.8%||93.4%||85.3%|
|October – December 2020||93.1%||91.4%||80.9%|
|January – March 2021||93.1%||91.3%||81.8%|
|April – June 2021||94.1%||93%||87.5%|
|July – September 2021||95.1%||93.9%||88.8%|
|October – December 2021||95.2%||94.1%||90.1%|
|January – March 2021||95.1%||93.7%||90%|
|April – June 2021||95.9%||93.7%||90.5%|
|July – September 2021||96.5%||92.7%||89.5%|
Keep in mind that the chart above shows the removal rate of TikTok videos using those specific methods (within 24 hours, proactive, and before any views), not the rate at which all TikTok videos are removed from the platform.
In other words, it only says that out of those videos that were removed, a certain percentage of them were removed using the methods described above.
It’s good to see that the vast majority of the content that violated TikTok’s policies was removed before too many people had the chance to see it. Moreover, both the algorithm and the human reviewers removed content without users reporting it.
It seems that, aside from proactively removing content that stagnated, the other two methods grew in scope, so TikTok’s reviewers are doing their job consistently better.
Videos Removed by Country as of 2023
Below, you’ll find a detailed presentation of TikTok’s video removal per country as of 2023. These stats represent about 90% of the overall total volume of removed videos from 2020 to 2022 and is representative of the fifty largest markets for TikTok.
|Total Videos Removed||Proactive Removal||Removal Before 24 Hours||Removal Before Any Views|
|United States||18,369,951 million||94.6%||88%||81.9%|
|United Kingdom||2,889,003 million||93.3%||91%||86.4%|
|Saudi Arabia||2,164,069 million||93.9%||92.8%||89.6%|
|United Arab Emirates||793,167||94.4%||92.3%||89.4%|
|Lao Democratic Republic||389,064||99.6%||94.7%||88.4%|
One interesting observation that we can take from the chart above is the “Proactive Removal” category that’s extremely high in some countries like Cambodia, Lao, Bangladesh, Venezuela, and so on.
What I understand from this is that TikTok’s team is watching users from these countries much more attentively because they may have noticed a trend of violations coming from them. As such, they proactively remove a lot of the content from these countries before anyone gets to see it.
Also, other than the US where TikTok has removed a total of 18 million videos from 2020 to 2022, Pakistan has the second-highest video removal statistic, amounting to 14 million. I mean…sure, why not?
Government Removal Requests 2019-2022
TikTok had its fair share of government requests for content removal, some of which they actioned and some that they ignored, depending on the circumstances. See the chart below for more information:
|Total Government Requests|
|January – June 2019||28|
|July – December 2019||45|
|January – June 2020||135|
|July – December 2020||412|
|January – June 2021||2,434|
|July – December 2021||1,722|
|January – June – 2021||2,713|
I won’t get into each country’s specific removal requests, but you can check it out in the Transparency Report from TikTok.
To give you a summary, the country with the highest number of requests sent was Russia, with 1,169. The removal rate was 79.7%, so the majority of requests were accepted and the videos were taken down.
Note that Russia’s statistic only looks at pre-war content and accounts since TikTok suspended live streaming and adding new content to the platform in Russia in March 2022.
Law Enforcement Requests for User Information 2019-2022
Finally, it’s time we had a look at the law enforcement requests that TikTok received and see how many of them they actually fulfilled.
Have a look below:
|Total Emergency Request||Total Preservation Requests||Total Legal Requests|
|January – June 2019||48||250|
|July – December 2019||70||430|
|January – June 2020||207||1,561|
|July – December 2020||409||765|
|January – June 2021||715||1,175|
|July – December 2021||682||2,714|
|January – June – 2021||765||1,248||4,054|
Here’s a glossary in case you don’t know what those terms are:
- Emergency Requests – When law enforcement requests a referencing of an emergency situation and wants the disclosure of user data to confirm it
- Preservation Requests – A request to preserve user data
- Legal Requests – A request to disclose user data
As for the percentage of legal and emergency requests that TikTok fulfilled, I could only find data per country, but suffice it to say that in the numbers go from 0% to 100% in some cases. For instance, Albania had 2 requests, but TikTok didn’t fulfill either.
Brazil had 95 total requests, and TikTok fulfilled 67.1%, meaning that 67.1% of the time, they ended up disclosing some or all of the users’ data to Brazilian law enforcement.
The US had 2,419 law enforcement requests from 2019 to 2022, and TikTok fulfilled 72.2% of those, which is a pretty big number.
Copyright & Trademark Reports 2022
This section will be quite short due to the lack of data, and I only found data for the January-June 2022 period, so here you go:
|Total Copyright Removal Reports||Successful Copyright Removal Reports||Percentage of Successful Copyright Reports||Total Trademark Removal Reports||Successful Copyright Removal Reports||Percentage of Successful Trademark Reports|
It seems both in the case of copyright reports and trademark reports, the fulfillment rate (where TikTok agreed to take down the content) was around 65-70%, which is just about fine.
It’s also to be expected that the number of copyright removal reports is several times higher than the number of trademark removal reports. After all, too few entities on TikTok have an official trademark on their content.
Most will invoke copyright infringement, as they should.
What’s the Conclusion?
It seems pretty obvious that TikTok’s rate of removing accounts and content has been elevated substantially in these two years (2020-2022). Here’s a summary of the most important takeaways:
- The number of removed accounts suspected to be under the age of 13 has by 2,038% from Q3 2020 to Q3 2022
- The number of removed fake accounts went up by 2,015% from Q3 20202 to Q3 2022
- The number of “Other accounts” removed from the platform has gone up by 721% from Q3 2020 to Q3 2022
- TikTok removed a grand total of 737,977,811 million videos in 2 years, from Q3 2020 to Q3 2022
- TikTok’s proactive removal of content seems to have gotten “better” over the years, especially in particular countries where there’s a trend of policy violations
- TikTok has a nasty habit of accepting many government requests and law enforcement requests for user data disclosure
All in all, we’ve come to expect it from TikTok, of all social media platforms. Though, it’s to be expected that, as the platform becomes more popular and the user base grows, there are going to be more and more who violate platform policies.
I hope this guide has proven useful to you. See you at the next one!