Here’s What ‘Seggs’ Means When You See It on Social Media
If you spend time on TikTok and other social media sites, you’ve probably encountered the word “seggs” in a hashtag or caption—and it definitely wasn’t a typing error. “Seggs” is an alternate spelling of, well, “sex.”
Why add extra letters to the three letter word we already know and love? Let’s talk about seggs, baby.
For some social media users, “seggs” helps them dodge censorship—especially on TikTok.
Censorship on social media has long been a subject of debate. When is social media censorship protecting users from threats and hate, and when is that censorship suppressing positive, educational content?
TikTok, the video-based social media platform owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is notorious for pulling content that most people would consider benign, as well as its lack of action against some users whose content is genuinely dangerous.
In 2021, TikTok announced that the company would be using an automated system to weed out videos that violate community guidelines. Now, when that system catches a video that violates the platform’s standards, the video is immediately removed. The creator then has to go through an appeals process if they want to get their video back on the app.
The problem? Automated systems make mistakes. TikTok says that last year, the company’s automated removal system had a false video removal rate of 5%. That might not sound like much, but when you consider just how much content is available on TikTok, it means the app removed millions of videos that did not violate the company’s policies.
TikTok’s automated system unfairly targets sex educators.
The platform’s most recent iteration of its community guidelines states: “We do not allow nudity, pornography, or sexually explicit content on our platform.” Since the app sometimes uses an automated system to enforce its sex-related policies, sex-positive content, sex workers’ content, and sex education content gets unfairly swept off the platform.
“I noticed that the censorship on TikTok was much more severe than on other social media platforms I have done sex education on,” says Eva Bloom, the sex educator behind the YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok accounts called @whatsmybodydoing. “I’ve had multiple videos taken down for violating guidelines around talking about sexuality on TikTok.”
Eva and other users have found that if they attach the word “sex” to a TikTok video, that video is more likely to be removed by TikTok. That’s when creative spelling (“seggs”) comes into play.
As of the writing of this article, the TikTok hashtag #seggs has 1.7 billion views. Variations include #seggys, #seggseducation, and #seggsuality. According to Bloom, “seggs” is better at circumventing censorship than other alternate spellings of “sex.”
“My first video to get removed was removed even with censorship of the word ‘sexuality’ already, but another variation,” Bloom says. That variation was “s€xuality.” “I have been locked out of my account for more than 24 hours…and Tik Tok has threatened to delete my account.”
Bloom switched to using “seggs” in captions and hashtags on their educational videos. Since adopting the term, Bloom hasn’t had any videos removed for language, although some of Bloom’s videos have since been removed for showing sex toys or discussing specific sex acts in an educational context.
Are people using “seggs” on other platforms, too?
On Instagram, the hashtag #seggs has been used in around 12,000 posts. While Instagram’s community guidelines don’t prohibit sex education content, using the word “sex” can still trigger unjust consequences. Some Instagram users use “seggs” in their captions and hashtags to avoid being shadowbanned, which occurs when Instagram restricts or hides a user’s account without their knowledge.
Rachel Wright, MA, LMFT, who shares educational content about sex and relationships on Instagram, has experienced shadowbanning firsthand. “I’ve been shadowbanned a lot,” Wright says. “The first time I ever noticed it, I was at a mixer exchanging Instagram handles with some folks I met. When they went to search me, I wouldn’t come up. You had to type in my full, exact handle to find me.”
Wright plans to continue sharing sex-postive content on Instagram, despite having to make some spelling adjustments. “There is so much shame around sex, and the more we talk about something, the more shame goes away,” she says.
Ro White is a Chicago-based writer, sex educator, and Autostraddle’s Sex & Dating Editor.
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