One of the most controversial and confusing topics when it comes to TikTok is whether or not swearing is permitted.
While you occasionally hear videos using swear or cuss words quite explicitly, you also often see people censoring themselves – using words like f*ck or frog instead of, well… you know.
This causes many people to wonder whether or not swearing on TikTok is actually allowed, or whether it’s something that can you banned.
In this article, we’ll cover everything that you need to know.
Is Swearing Allowed In TikTok Videos?
TikTok’s stance on swearing within videos is open to interpretation.
Swearing is not officially banned on TikTok – it will not result in a community guidelines violation, nor will it cause your video to get taken down. The only exception to this is the use of racial slurs, or any other terms that are targeted against specific groups of people.
For example, attacks targeting the LBGTQ community may warrant a takedown of the video, plus further action. While these takedowns can be appealed, they are unlikely to be reinstated as hate speech is taken very seriously on TikTok.
So if swearing or cussing is allowed, why do so many people self-censor? Why do TikTok creators go out of their way to avoid using any swear words?
It comes down to suppression.
While TikTok may not outright delete videos that contain swear words, it’s believed that these videos may be heavily suppressed, not showing up as frequently on people’s For You pages. Some people even believe that single instances of swearing can cause temporary shadowbans that also affect future videos, even if the future videos do not contain any swear words themselves.
When removing swear words, you should ensure that they are not heard audibly in the video, appear anywhere in the video, or are used in any text or stickers that appear on the screen.
The fact that we have to go out of our way to avoid swearing is a little bit frustrating, particularly if we are trying to maximize our viewership. However, TikTok is an incredibly large platform, serving videos to people of all ages as well as those located all throughout the world. Therefore, TikTok is liable to ensure that the content that their algorithm shows is appropriate for all users.
The takeaway is this – swearing in your TikTok videos will not get you banned or even get the video removed. However, it may result in the video being suppressed, which will ensure its shown to less people as a result.
What About Video Captions?
Next, you may be wondering about video captions. Can you swear inside TikTok captions? Should you?
The answer to this is largely the same as the answer above. Just like in videos, uncensored swearing won’t result in account or video deletion. However, it may lead to less people seeing your video on the For You and Following pages.
Therefore, it is best avoided if possible.
In fact, suppression may be more likely when using cuss words in TikTok captions or descriptions, because it is trivial for TikTok to pick up on them.
While their algorithm to determine what words are being said via audio is not perfect, it is simple to tell whether or not a TikTok description has a swear word in it or not.
Therefore, you may be penalized for it more frequently.
Note that TikTok is able to recognize alternative spellings of swear words, such as f*ck or a$$. However, it is unknown whether or not they also treat these the same. Anecdotal experience says that using emojis like 🍑, 💩, 🍆, 🐸, or 🎂 in place of alternate spellings is usually a safer bet.
Can You Swear In TikTok Comments?
Lastly, let’s look at comments.
TikTok comments are a bit different – after all, video creators can’t fully control what types of comments people leave on their videos.
While they can obviously delete comments they don’t like or even implement a filter that hides comments containing certain words (more on that later), ultimately once you release a video people can comment almost anything.
When you think about this, it would be really unfair to be penalized for something that another user wrote. So, it doesn’t seem that swear words left in comments seem to affect your video at all.
But can you get in trouble if you’re the one commenting?
Thankfully, the answer seems to be no here as well.
Therefore, you can comfortably swear inside the TikTok’s comment section if you’d like.
How To Automatically Block Comments Containing Certain Words
If you’d like, TikTok has a feature for video creators that allows you to automatically hide comments that contain certain words.
For example, if you put swear words into this filter, any comment containing a swear word would be automatically hidden from everyone.
To enable this, you have to open up your TikTok settings. This can be done by going to your Profile, then clicking the three lines in the top-right corner.
From there, click on ‘Privacy’, then ‘Comments’. It will pull up a page that looks similar to the screenshot above.
Turn on the ‘Filter keywords’ section, and you can then input the words you’d like to block.
If a comment contains that word, the entire comment will be hidden – not just the banned word!
What Words Are Banned?
Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like there’s any list of banned words that’s completely known.
It is likely that TikTok has continued to add new words over time, as more slang terms have come out and began to increase in popularity.
So if you’re looking for a banned words list on TikTok, unfortunately there isn’t one.
However, you can assume that all swear words, as well as words or phrases that may be considered hate speech against any group of people are banned.
Additionally, words related to violence, drugs, or weaponry may also lead to video suppression.
How To Block Explicit Content
Did you know that TikTok has a feature built-in, that will let you block content deemed explicit?
This is a great option if you want to ensure your children aren’t exposed to explicit material, as well as if you simply want to clean up your feed a little bit.
While TikTok bans hardcore explicit videos (like nudity or extreme violence), Restricted Mode lets you take it one step further.
To enable Restricted Mode, follow these steps:
- Open the TikTok app.
- Visit your profile page.
- Access your settings by clicking the button with 3 bars, which can be found in the top-right corner.
- Scroll down to ‘Digital Wellbeing’ under the ‘Content & Activity’ section.
- Tap on ‘Restricted Mode’
- Tap on ‘Turn on Restricted Mode’
- Enter a 4-digit passcode and click on the arrow.
Restricted Mode will be immediately enabled! Follow these same steps in order to turn it back off again.
Parents should set a passcode that will not be easily guessed by their child.
Why Does TikTok Suppress Swearing, Anyway?
Swear worlds are an inevitable part of our vocabulary. So, why does TikTok sometimes suppress videos that contain them?
Ultimately, it comes down to two reasons.
The first is sort of obvious – TikTok does not want to expose younger audiences to content that may not be age-appropriate. The reality is, children and teens either use the app directly, or at least overhear the contents of videos that are being streamed.
Some people find swear words offensive, so this can cause a problem.
Another big issue however is that advertisers do not like it either.
Ultimately, advertisers are TikTok’s real customers – they are the ones that pay the bills.
We’ve seen other tech giants like YouTube demonetize content that contains swear words in the early parts of their videos, and it’s likely that TikTok holds a similar stance – since again, the advertisers ultimately have a lot of the influence.
Although TikTok does not ban all swearing, the use of swear words can limit the reach a video receives.
Additionally, swear words that target specific groups may cause video takedowns, or even account suspensions.
Therefore, the use of foul language is best avoided when possible.
I hope that this article has answered some of your questions. Of course, if you have anything else you’d like to know or you’d like to share your personal experiences, please feel free to do so using the comment form below.
Thank you for reading,
– James McAllister