The rise in social media use has been beneficial for many aspects of society, but clearly harmful in others.
While sites like Facebook and Twitter are great tools for communication between lost friends and distant family members, the use of these sites come with a price.
And Donald Trump is furious that one major social media site just admitted to blatantly censoring conservatives.
TikTok is a popular video networking site used primarily by teens to record short videos and share them among friends or followers.
The company is both owned and operated by Chinese entities, and as a result, has a major issue with censorship.
In fact, it was recently revealed that the Chinese social media giant is censoring any videos that do not “please Beijing.”
TikTok has instructed its moderators to censor videos that mention any subjects that paint the communist country in a bad light or may influence political views in China.
For instance, videos that mention Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong will all be removed from the site.
These shocking revelations came as a result of leaked documents that detail the site’s guidelines and potential policy violations.
But the document also reveals how parent company of TikTok, ByteDance, is advancing Chinese policy aims through the app.
That’s right — the app your teenager uses incessantly is actually a propaganda tool created by a foreign government. Yet another example of the extent to which your information and presence on social media are not private.
The information in the documents was leaked after suspicion arose when discussion of Hong Kong protests was censored or removed.
The guidelines divide banned material into two categories: either marked as violations which are immediately and permanently deleted from the site, or “visible to self” where the content is not removed but heavily censored through TikTok’s algorithms.
And while these actions by TikTok are blatant violations of the United States First Amendment rights to free speech, they are labeled as “hate speech and religious violations” by the app.
The Guardian reported:
A ban on criticism of China’s socialist system, for instance, comes under a general ban of “criticism/attack towards policies, social rules of any country, such as constitutional monarchy, monarchy, parliamentary system, separation of powers, socialism system, etc”.
Another ban covers “demonisation or distortion of local or other countries’ history such as May 1998 riots of Indonesia, Cambodian genocide, Tiananmen Square incidents”.
A more general purpose rule bans “highly controversial topics, such as separatism, religion sects conflicts, conflicts between ethnic groups, for instance exaggerating the Islamic sects conflicts, inciting the independence of Northern Ireland, Republic of Chechnya, Tibet and Taiwan and exaggerating the ethnic conflict between black and white”.
While this censorship issue may seem shocking, it’s quite common in social media — and causes controversy daily.
In recent years, Facebook has faced the Supreme Court, while Amazon has released an entire line of voice-activated assistants who record your conversations.
And while TikTok has been blatantly censoring free speech of Americans, it was still the most downloaded app in the first half of 2018 — and its popularity is still growing.
Will you continue letting your children use TikTok even though the platform is highly regulated by Chinese corporations?
Leave us your thoughts in the comments section below.