YT Meaning on TikTok—New Slang Word for 'White People' Sparks Confusion

TikTok is dictating trends among young people, from new dance crazes to pop songs and items of clothing. More recently, it has also been creating slang words for mainstream use on social media.

Users of the app may have seen the phrase "yt" being used in comments, captions or the popular text-to-voice generator featured in videos.

Coined as a replacement for "white people," the letters sound out "whitey." It might seem an odd and unnecessary abbreviation, but there are a few reasons behind it.

The most obvious is that TikTok caps comments at 100 characters, meaning that like on Twitter, users are pushed hard to decide which letters or words they really need in longer messages. Abbreviations save space.

The use of "yt" is also allowing users to get round race-related rules and regulations. Many creators on TikTok have posted unverified reports of having videos featuring race-related words flagged up and then moderated by the app, especially when they were paired with race-related content. However, TikTok does not moderate the term "white," unless it's used in a context which violates the app's Community Guidelines.

A spokesperson for TikTok told Newsweek, "TikTok is an inclusive space for positive and creative expression. Our Community Guidelines make clear that we do not tolerate hate speech or hateful ideologies, and we take action when issues are brought to our attention."

TikTok has previously faced criticism for issues surrounding diversity and race relations. In June 2020, TikTok issued an apology to its Black community, after complaints that Black creators weren't getting as much exposure on the app as others.

"Recently, our users have voiced tough but fair questions about whether all creators have an equal opportunity for their content to be seen and their experiences affirmed on TikTok," TikTok said in a statement.

"We want to emphasize that nothing in our Community Guidelines seeks to discriminate against any creator nor diminish diversity on our platform, but we are committed to constantly examining our policies and practices to make sure they do not inadvertently limit exposure for creators based on who they are," TikTok said in the statement, before detailing the platform's plan of action.

Coining the term "yt" hasn't pleased everyone, and many are mistaking the word for its alternative meaning. In recent years, "yt" had been used as an abbreviation for YouTube —something many TikTok users have pointed out.

In fact, a popular Reddit post titled "I hate how TikTok is using 'yt' as an abbreviation for 'white,'" has amassed over 14,000 votes and 690 comments in the 12 days since it was posted. "Every time I see it I always think of YouTube," reads the post.

A phone with the TikTok logo.
In this photo illustration, the social media application logo, TikTok is displayed on the screen of an iPhone on March 5, 2019, in Paris, France. Getty Images. Getty Images