TikTok refused to host disguised account for Chinese government – The Guardian

TikTok refused to host disguised account for Chinese government – The Guardian

Senior figures at social video app pushed back on request deemed ‘sensitive’, according to report
TikTok has said it refused an attempt by the Chinese government to open a disguised account on the platform for the purpose of spreading propaganda.
The Chinese-owned social video app said the attempt was refused because the account would have violated its guidelines.
Bloomberg reported that in April 2020 that a message was sent to Elizabeth Kanter, TikTok’s head of government relations for the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Israel, raising a “Chinese government entity that’s interested in joining TikTok but would not want to be openly seen as a government account as the main purpose is for promoting content that showcase the best side of China (some sort of propaganda).”
The request was deemed “sensitive” internally and opposed by senior figures at the company, according to Bloomberg. The TikTok spokesperson said the request was made by a TikTok employee on behalf of a friend. Bloomberg reported the government entity concerned was “responsible for public relations”.
TikTok has more than 1 billion users worldwide and is owned by the Chinese tech firm ByteDance.
TikTok’s community guidelines state that users cannot engage in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour” where accounts “exert influence and sway public opinion while misleading individuals, our community, or our systems about the account’s identity, location, relationships, popularity, or purpose”. It has also announced that it was working on a policy for labelling content from state-controlled media accounts.
BuzzFeed reported last month that China-based employees of ByteDance were repeatedly able to access American users’ non-public data, prompting renewed debate about the security of user data on the platform.
Responding to concerns raised by US senators after the BuzzFeed story, Shou Zi Chew, TikTok’s chief executive, acknowledged that China-based employees “can have access to TikTok US user data”. He added, however, that access was subject to “robust cybersecurity controls and authorisation approval protocols overseen by our US-based security team”.
This week, senior Conservative party politicians under Chinese sanctions wrote to the speakers of the House of Commons and the House of Lords demanding parliament took down its newly launched TikTok account. Signatories to the letter, according to Politico, included Tom Tugendhat, chair of the foreign affairs select committee, and Iain Duncan Smith, the former Conservative leader. They have been banned from entering China or Hong Kong after consistently criticising China’s treatment of its Uyghur population.


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