Whichever side of the fence you sit on when it comes to TikTok, the surge in popularity of the video sharing platform cannot be denied.
As an increasingly popular platform TikTok is now beginning to learn the role it has to play when it comes to social discourse. This as the company had to issue an apology for wrongfully removing a viral video discussing the abuse of Uighurs (also spelled Uyghurs) people in Xinjiang, China.
Said apology began with a timeline that attempted to clarify the series of events that led up to the removal of the video and suspension of Feroza Aziz’s account, both of which have since been reinstated.
“We would like to apologize to the user for the error on our part this morning,” writes head of safety at TikTok US, Eric Han.
“In addition, we are reaching out to the user directly to inform her that we’ve decided to override the device ban in this case. Our moderation approach of banning devices associated with a banned account is designed to protect against the spread of coordinated malicious behavior – and it’s clear that this was not the intent here. This user can again access her active account (@getmefamouspartthree) from the device she was using previously,” he explains.
Aziz is not buying TikTok’s claims, however, tweeting, “Do I believe they took it away because of an unrelated satirical video that was deleted on a previous deleted account of mine? Right after I finished posting a 3 part video about the Uyghurs? No.”
While it’s difficult to ascertain the intention behind TikTok’s actions in this specific instance, the fact that its parent company, ByteDance, is Chinese does not do much to diminish the narrative of censorship within the country, especially as it pertains to potential criticism of the government.
As such this recent episode highlighting potential abuse of Uighurs in the country, has fuelled claims that ByteDance had to bow to pressure from the Chinese government following the posting of this video.
It begs two questions then – had it not gone viral, would the video still be removed with the account remaining suspended today, and what kinds of measures will TikTok take to prevent this sort of thing happening in future?
It’s unclear what kind of answer TikTok has to these questions for now.