TikTok videos about the Hollywood writers strike were temporarily blocked as the platform attempted to moderate QAnon conspiracy theories.
Media Matters for America, a nonprofit media research group, reported today that TikTok users were unable to search for content related to the Writers Guild of America strike. “WGA” and “WGA strike” didn’t return any search results on the app despite continuing waves of coverage of the writers and actors strikes. Within a few hours of MMFA’s report being published, the search results were restored and now appear to be working as usual.
TikTok confirmed that it accidentally blocked searches for the WGA strike content while attempting to block QAnon conspiracy theories; TikTok spokesperson Ben Rathe stopped short of telling us exactly which QAnon phrase was blocked on the record, but we do see the slogan “WWG1WGA” (where we go one, we go all) is a common QAnon phrase.
Under TikTok’s disinformation policy, the company in the past has banned user accounts sharing QAnon content and has blocked QAnon hashtags. Posts containing terms like “Writers Guild of America” were not affected, Rathe says.
TikTok has been a key way that unions and workers have shared news about the dual WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. The strikes have had an impact on content creators and influencers as well, as studios try to hire non-union content creators to do work that union members are not performing and creators try to understand how to comply with union requests.
Disclosure: The Verge’s editorial staff is also unionized with the Writers Guild of America, East.