Toxic behaviour | TikTok's internal forum for staff dating becomes hub for nasty comments

TikTok's internal forum for staff dating becomes hub for nasty comments

TikTok has an internal matchmaking service for employees to introduce co-workers to family and friends interested in dating, it has been revealed, but the service has seen unsavoury comments cropping up.

The channel, called Meet Cute, sits on what is essentially an intranet called ByteMoments (named in reference to the app's parent company ByteDance), used by thousands of TikTok employees around the world in a similar way to how apps like Slack and Teams are used.

As reported by Forbes, staff can use the platform to post pictures and details of relatives and friends who are interested in dating – which can then be viewed by other workers who are also in the dating pool.

The Meet Cute feed also contains information you’d typically see on dating apps too, such as someone’s height, weight and details of hobbies and interests.

The service also allows employees to comment on the posts and evaluate the people who come up on the feed.

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Unfortunately, employees have reported that the matchmaking service has started to turn sour, with colleagues making disparaging remarks about the friends and family members posted within the network.

Forbes reported how, in one comment thread, several men called the cousin of a colleague a "PO" - a tech term referring to a high priority task. In another section, men were seen to be discussing a woman’s physical features when someone commented: "My girlfriend is thinner than your girlfriend," with a smiling emoji.

According to TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, the service was initially intended solely for use by employees based in China, where internal dating apps are much more common, and used by other major firms such as Alibaba and Huawei.

However, a system bug allowed the service to be used by workers in multiple territories.

“The Meet Cute function was specifically designed as an optional offering for mainland China employees only and we have made the channel market-specific" a spokesperson told Business Insider.

They added: "Over the past few weeks, a technical bug briefly allowed a nominal number of employees in other markets to add the channel to their ByteMoments on an opt-in basis. The bug has been resolved."

Tackling bullying in the workplace

The victims of the vitriol from several TikTok employees were not colleagues, but the fact remains that if these workers are willing and capable of bullying strangers on a dating network, they’re just as capable of treating employees in the same way.

So what can employers to do to proactively manage the risk of bullying in the workplace?

Kate Palmer, HR Advice and Consultancy Director at Peninsula, shares her top tips:

Take no prisoners – a zero tolerance approach

“In a professional setting there should be a zero-tolerance approach towards bullying to ensure all employees are able to carry out their role to the best of their ability, in an environment where they feel comfortable and protected.

“Every workplace should have a bullying and harassment policy in place clearly outlining the behaviour expected from all employees, as well as the steps that will be taken if allegations of bullying and harassment arise and the consequences if the claims are upheld.

“All bullying claims must be taken seriously and thoroughly investigated.

“This policy should be reviewed on an annual basis, ensuring it is kept up to date with all current legislation and best practice. All employees should sign and acknowledge receipt and understanding of the policy to help embed positive behaviours across the company.”

A culture of peace and inclusivity

“It’s important to create a culture whereby employees feel comfortable and empowered to call out bad behaviour or bullying if they experience or witness it in the workplace. Embedding an inclusive culture across the business means that anyone demonstrating bad behaviour will stand out, making it easier to identify incidents of bullying or harassment.

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“Make sure that everyone knows how to report bullying or harassment and have a designated member of management on hand throughout the working day if needed to deal with any incidents.

“All teams should have at least one person who employees can raise concerns to. This helps avoid a situation where the person you have to report bullying to is the person responsible. It’s also good to have a route where employees can anonymously raise concerns to allay fears of any repercussions.”

Education is key

“All employees, including management, should be fully aware of the information contained within the bullying and harassment policy. Regular training should be carried out whenever any updates are made to the policy.

“Not only will this ensure that everyone across the business is aware of their responsibilities, it will also reinforce your expectations, making it less likely that incidents of bullying will occur.

“There can often be blurred lines between bullying and banter. What one person finds funny can be extremely offensive to someone else. In these scenarios, the person involved may not actually realise that they are causing offence and can often be mortified to find out they have. This is where education is key.

“With no legal definition of bullying in place, it’s up to each business to determine what behaviour is and isn’t appropriate for their workplace.”

Visible support

“The impact of bullying can be devastating, destroying someone’s mental and physical health, sense of worth and purpose. This is especially true when bullying behaviour continues over a prolonged period of time.

“Victims of bullying can often be too embarrassed or intimidated to report the behaviour, so it’s important that when someone raises concerns you have proper support in place.

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“An Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) is a great way to help. Employees can access confidential, external support such as counselling, helping them deal with any issues and concerns. Support is often available for family members as well, which can provide additional reassurance for your employees.

“Having comprehensive support in place, as well as a clear investigative and disciplinary process to deal with any allegations of bullying or harassment, will demonstrate to employees that you take their wellbeing seriously.

“When the team feels protected, supported, and appreciated this increased team morale and motivation which then benefits the business.”

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