TikTok admits censorship

Chinese social media platform is trying to cover up the genocide (Press Release)

On Wednesday, TikTok's UK Head of Public Policy, Elizabeth Kanter, admitted that the social media platform has been censoring China-critical content. In the scope of a hearing at the British House of Commons, which focused on Uyghur forced labor, she publicly admitted that the company had blocked posts addressing the Chinese government's crimes against the ethnic group of the Uyghurs. "The TikTok representative's choice of words clearly shows that the company is trying to cover up the arbitrary internment of members of the Muslim nationalities, the separation of children from their families, and the forced sterilization of Uyghur women," criticized Hanno Schedler, expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect at the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), in Göttingen on Friday. "Using a pseudo-neutral language, she spoke of the 'Uyghur situation' – thus mocking the victims and their relatives.

TikTok is one of the world's fastest growing social media channels, and it is especially popular with younger people. The app belongs to the Chinese company Bytedance. In 2018, TikTok's boss Zhang Yiming had to write a letter to the Chinese Communist Party to apologize for content that contained jokes about party members. In this letter, he promised to introduce "core values into the company's technology and products". According to Schedler, this submissive statement was obviously followed up by deeds. The company also removed content on the human rights situation in Tibet and on the Tiananmen Square massacre in June 1989.

In September 2019, the British newspaper The Guardian revealed how the TikTok moderation guidelines prohibit any "criticism/attack towards policies, social rules of any country". On Wednesday, Elisabeth Kanter responded evasively when a member of parliament asked her since when China-critical posts were allowed again. Apparently, this has been the case for at least a year – since shortly after the publication of the Guardian report.