Science, Technology, and Social Media

TikTok’s Parent Company Blocked China Critics From Using The Popular App

ByteDance, which is TikTok’s Beijing-based parent company, allegedly prevented people with critical views of China, potentially even those beyond China’s borders, from accessing the popular app, according to a report released on Thursday.

ByteDance allegedly strives to stop possible critics of the Chinese government from using its platforms, including TikTok, according to a report by the State Department’s Global Engagement Center (GEC). ByteDance allegedly kept a list of individuals who probably faced blocks or limitations on their access to its platforms like TikTok because of negative characterizations of the Chinese government until at least late 2020.

One example of criticizing the Chinese government was promoting the independence of Uyghurs, a persecuted minority in Xinjiang, China, according to the GEC report. The oppression of the Uyghurs is a genocide, according to the State Department.

“According to U.S. Government information, as of late 2020, ByteDance maintained a regularly updated internal list identifying people who were likely blocked or restricted from all ByteDance platforms, including TikTok, for reasons such as advocating for Uyghur independence,” the GEC report states. “ByteDance directed that specific individuals be added to this list if they were deemed to pose a public sentiment risk, likely to prevent criticism of the PRC government from spreading on ByteDance-owned platforms.”

The Chinese government allegedly uses ByteDance to suppress views that combat its propaganda, according to the GEC report.

“This example illustrates how the spread of PRC digital platforms globally creates new opportunities for Beijing to censor views that run counter to its promoted narratives on issues such as Xinjiang,” it asserts.

ByteDance also allegedly has staff in China that use a moderation system containing word lists designed to identify or restrict content, including posts related to former President Donald Trump and Uyghurs, according to Forbes. Although over 50 of the lists include “TikTok” in their title, the company told Forbes it had never utilized the lists.

TikTok, ByteDance and the State Department did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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Jason Cohen

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