TikTok Says Chinese Government Made No Requests to Censor Content

App’s first “transparency report” comes out after Hong Kong protest videos were conspicuously absent from TikTok

TikTok, amid growing fears it is linked too closely to the draconian Chinese government, shared its first “transparency report” earlier this week. The report, which covers the first half of 2019, showed that the Chinese government has made no requests to censor content or obtain user information, according to the company.

During that same time, the United States government made a half dozen requests, targeting seven TikTok accounts to remove content. TikTok did not share details on the posts or why they were removed, beyond saying it will sometimes “remove content [governments] deem to be a violation of local laws.” The U.S. government also made 79 requests for user information, which the report said are often connected to police investigations or emergencies “involving imminent harm.”

The full transparency report, which was published on Monday, is available here.

TikTok’s report was released the same week that the U.S. Army banned soldiers from using the popular video app on government phones. The app is “considered a cyber threat” and comes with security risks, a military representative told TheWrap. In November, the U.S. government opened a national security review into ByteDance, the Chinese parent company of TikTok, after several senators questioned its data collection policy and whether it had been purging content that was critical of China’s Communist regime.

Despite being owned by a Beijing-based company, TikTok isn’t available to most people in China. Instead, an app called Douyin, which conforms better to China’s rigid censorship laws, is used in the country.

Less than two months ago, TikTok banned — then un-banned — a teenager who went viral for criticizing the Chinese government’s treatment of Uighur Muslims. TikTok’s “transparency report” may do little to convince its skeptics, too, after The Guardian released documents in September showing ByteDance’s moderators were expected to block content that could upset the Chinese government. Searches for videos on Hong Kong have routinely produced few results on TikTok, even as pro-democracy protests swept the territory during 2019.

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