Gamez: Weight loss content creators say they are being banned from TikTok

Jul 18, 2023, 4:53 PM | Updated: 6:03 pm

Flight attendant Jernine Trott woke up at 5:30 a.m. July 5 and did her usual morning routine of looking at her phone before she started her day. She opened TikTok and saw her account was permanently banned.

Samantha Doe experienced the same thing July 5. She opened up TikTok and saw her account was gone.

“I opened up TikTok and tried to log back into my account, and it said that I was permanently banned,” Doe told KIRO Newsradio. “And I think I was just in utter shock because I had no idea what I had done.”

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Rachael Gullete, Dr. David Rosen, Tara Johnson, and nearly 60 other weight-loss content creators who posted videos about the GLP-1 and GIP medication Mounjaro were all banned. Both GLP-1 and GIP can treat people with type 2 diabetes. The drugs lower blood sugar by triggering the pancreas to release insulin after meals. Wegovy, a GLP-1 medication, is approved for weight loss.

“It’s such a revolutionary addition to the battle of obesity, where I’m seeing that it can compete with weight loss surgery,” Rosen, a bariatric surgeon from New York who lost more than 70,000 followers, told KIRO Newsradio. “There’s never been a medication that has approached the subject of weight loss.”

Mounjaro, created for type 2 diabetics, is not FDA-approved for weight loss despite receiving support from many health providers, including Rosen.

“I felt violated,” said Trott, who takes Mounjaro and is a type 2 diabetic. “I was and I probably still am somewhat traumatized for being a member of the Mounjaro and GLP-1 community and educating and advocating for people to have good health. I just felt defeated.”

She said she was creating a backup account because she knew that people in the community would be looking for her. Trott said she was posting at least one TikTok video per day before the ban and was also nearing the ability to earn endorsements.

“I was eligible for the TikTok shop and I had enrolled in it where I could do affiliate marketing,” Trott said. “My account was monetized where I did have two affiliate brand deals that were tied to that account and it’s just the initial shock of what happened. Now it’s just still trying to get in touch with those companies to let them know that I’m attempting to retrieve my account.”

Trott hopes her page will be fully restored, but she hasn’t heard anything from the company, as of this reporting.

Doe, a registered nurse, claimed TikTok usually sends the account user an email so they can appeal, but this time was different. All the content she created — along with 30,000 followers — was gone. Doe was also just starting to earn endorsements just like Trott.

“I texted a couple of my TikTok friends and I was like, I got banned,” Doe continued. “I sent them a screenshot. I don’t know what to do. I can’t even get into my backup account that I had because it logged me out as well.”

@setinlove #duet with @Rachael Lynn Gullette #greenscreen ♬ original sound – ✨Rachael Lynn✨

Gullette, who also takes Mounjaro for weight loss and has more than 30,000 followers, was awake at 2 a.m. when her account was banned. She was lucky enough to catch it and appeal the decision to ban all 26 videos that were reported to TikTok.

“So pretty much everyone has reached out and I was fortunate because I was there, right? When it happened in the middle of the night, I was able to try to log in, it gave me the opportunity to go to every single video,” she said. “So it was 20 plus videos that had been reported. I was able to appeal to them. By about 4:30 a.m., I had access to my account again.”

Rosen said he was flabbergasted because his content is meant to be educational and entertaining.

“I couldn’t have the disappointment, confusion, frustration, and anger, of having my TikTok account banned interfere with the really important weight loss surgery I was doing that morning,” Rosen said. “But between surgeries, I was able to sort of get a lay of the land figure out what happened and create a second account so that I can communicate with people who follow me, who get medical advice from me, who appreciate what I can tell them or directly answer to them through comments or direct messages about their GLP-1 experience or about what my experience prescribing GLP-1 has been.

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“It was meant to get the word out to increase access, and interest in GLP-1 medication because I think these medications are revolutionary and can help a tremendous amount of people,” Rosen continued. “I don’t cross the line in terms of making claims that aren’t responsible for a doctor. I take my responsibility, my oath very seriously, to do no harm and not represent things that aren’t backed up by data and studies.”

TikTok’s PR firm released the following statement over the bans:

We remove content and ban accounts that promote disordered eating or dangerous weight loss behaviors and do not permit ads for weight loss drugs or supplements. As you know, we’re reviewing the accounts brought to our attention to help ensure the correct action was taken, and if not, we will reinstate the account. So far, our review shows the majority of accounts were correctly banned.”

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Gamez: Weight loss content creators say they are being banned from TikTok