Ukraine medic makes 'skincare' TikTok after war posts taken down – Business Insider

A Canadian volunteer medic in Ukraine posted a sarcastic “skincare routine” video from the front line, poking fun at TikTok for taking down much of his serious war-related content.
Brandon Mitchell, 36, has been posting videos from Ukraine, most recently from Bakhmut, on various platforms since early in Russia’s invasion.
They show his work in the war zone as a member of the Hospitallers Medical Batallion, evacuating stranded families and trying to get injured people medical care.
But after TikTok took much of that material down, Mitchell made a post on Monday simply labeled: “Skincare routine.”
Standing in his military gear with artillery fire ringing out in the background, Mitchell says to camera: “So, could you ladies recommend some sort of … I’m thinking an exfoliator, because my skin’s not what it used it be.
“I’m quite concerned. Ukraine has adverse effects,” he says, popping a cigarette in his mouth.
Adding to the air of absurdity the post features the soundtrack to “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” 
In the video description, Mitchell wrote: “All my videos get banned on TikTok … Surely TikTok won’t ban a simple skincare video.”
Though he has no love for social media, Mitchell told Insider that he turned to platforms like TikTok as a means of fundraising for his humanitarian work — and said he could see “no rhyme or reason” for the takedowns.
The same posts on Instagram stayed online, he said.
(Mitchell said that the skincare post was also meant to poke fun at social media’s focus on vapid content, and that he chose TikTok for it because it had the audio he wanted.)
After Insider contacted TikTok, the platform reinstated four posts. It added that they were taken down over Mitchell’s inclusion of personal contact details, which it said violates the platform’s policy on personal information.
But the platform relented on this on the basis that Mitchell was using this to further a humanitarian cause, it said.
Two further videos remain banned for violation of the platform’s “violent and graphic content” policy, though Mitchell questions that characterization. 
The episode highlighted an ongoing frustration with what researcher Abbie Richards called TikTok’s “puzzling” moderation methods.
In 2019, TikToker Feroza Aziz was suspended after she made a makeup tutorial during which she highlighted China’s oppression of Uyghur Muslims, as Insider reported. (TikTok said the ban was unrelated to Aziz’ China content.)
Videos like Mitchell’s — where there is an attempt, ironic or otherwise, to disguise serious content with “fluffy” material – are among several evasive tactics used by TikTokers, Richards, a research fellow at the Accelerationism Research Consortium, told Insider.
She pointed to posts by TikToker @alluringskull, who has made dance posts overlaid with commentary on issues like anti-Black racism and the crisis in Yemen, commenting on the latter: “This is just a totally normal dance video.”
The platform is now awash with people pre-emptively labeling their content as “fake,” as a way to get around moderation, Richards said — despite the intention for it to be read as real.
The hashtag #fakewar is often added to Ukraine content, while sexually suggestive content might be posted with the hashtag #fakebody.
There’s no evidence that these tactics fool the platform’s moderators, Richards said, but how TikTok implements its moderation is so scattergun that it users, confused, try these methods anyway.
As for Mitchell, he says he’s not planning to continue to take on the social media giant over his Ukraine war posts. “We’ve got a big enough enemy to deal with,” he says.
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