TikTok removed nearly 107 million videos in Q2 2023

Anton P. | October 24, 2023

TikTok's efforts to remove harmful content from its platform have recently been in the spotlight. According to data presented by the Atlas VPN team, TikTok removed 106,476,032 videos for violating its community guidelines in Q2 2023.

TikTok also wiped a total of 107,917,818 accounts in Q2 2023. Notably, most removed accounts belonged to users under 13, in line with the minimum age requirements to create an account on the platform.

A rise in removals comes amidst concerns over TikTok's ability to protect its users from harmful content and exploitation. The Data Protection Commission recently found that in the latter half of 2020, TikTok’s default settings did not do enough to protect children’s accounts, resulting in a €345 million fine. 

The data is based on the most recent TikTok Community Guideline Enforcement report, published on October 12, 2023. It delves further into how TikTok upholds its terms of service and penalizes guidelines violations.

The results of Q2 2O23 show a noticeable 19% uptick from the previous quarter (91,003,510 videos removed) and a 26% increase compared to Q4 2022 (85,860,819 videos removed). 

An increase in removals could be connected with several revisions to TikTok's community guideline policy since April 2023, following discussions that the platform should be banned in the United States for national security. Subsequent updates to the policy were released in May and August. 

Revisions included new provisos relating to synthetic media, hate speech, election integrity efforts, and a 'commitment to uphold human rights and align with international legal frameworks.'

However, the overall number of penalized videos in H1 2023 (197,479,542) remains lower than in the same period in 2022 (216,114,816) — a decrease of almost 9%.

Mature themes — biggest offender

While most content on TikTok is harmless, the sheer popularity of the platform — which now boasts over 1 billion users worldwide — makes it a breeding ground for illegal or violative activities not unique to TikTok. This ranges from advertising of fraudulent products or services to sexually explicit content.

Of all the nearly 107 million videos removed in Q2 2023, almost 39.1% contained sensitive and mature themes, such as nudity and body exposure or graphic images. Thankfully, moderators deleted around 83.1% of all these videos before they had a single view.

Regulated goods and commercial activities were the second-largest deletion category, comprising 28% of all removals. This ranges from consuming and promoting drugs, alcohol, and tobacco to conducting scams or fraud.

Safety and civility violations — such as bullying, hate speech, and youth exploitation — round out the top three, equal to 14.5% of all cases. This is closely followed by the mental and behavioral health category, which was the main reason for removal 10.1% of the time.

Privacy and security were slightly less common reasons, with content featuring personal information warranting removal in only 7.1% of all cases. The remaining 1.2% was covered by integrity and authenticity violations, such as spreading misinformation or paid political content.

While TikTok has taken steps to address safety concerns, there is a need for more substantial and consistent efforts to ensure a safe environment for its vast user base. The ongoing issues with content removal and user protection indicate that the platform may need to invest more in proactive measures to address these critical safety issues effectively.

Anton P.

Anton P.

Former chef and the head of Atlas VPN blog team. He's an experienced cybersecurity expert with a background of technical content writing.


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