TikTok Reinstates Banned User Who Criticized China

In the wake of the controversy that ensued after TikTok a user who had posted a video that criticized the Chinese government, the company has reinstated the user while insisting that the ban was not related to the video’s criticism of China.

The ban occurred this past week after a teenage TikTok user named Feroza Aziz posted a video that criticized China’s treatment of its Uighur minority, which subsequently went viral. The video’s description deceptively described the content as a beauty tutorial, apparently in an attempt to get it passed the company’s censors.

All this happened in the aftermath of questioning by some U.S. legislators as to whether the Chinese government was censoring speech that it did not like within the app.

In response to the uproar generated by the user’s ban, the company insisted that it did not censor free speech. “TikTok does not moderate content due to political sensitivities,” a spokesperson for the company then claimed.

While TikTok reinstated the user’s account 50 minutes after it blocked it, it is continuing to insist that it was not censoring speech when it initiated the ban.

The company claims that the user was banned not for the video about the Uighurs but because a different video posted on a different account owned by the same person included an image of Osama bin Laden. They say that this violated its rule against the posting of terrorist imagery. Though it added that the ban was a “human moderation error.”

In spite of all TikTok’s claims that it does not censor speech relating to sensitive topics the could upset China’s communist government, in September of this year The Guardian reported that the company does in fact requests its moderators to crack down on posts that touch upon the following subjects:

  • The Tiananmen Square massacre
  • Tibet
  • Pro-LGBT content