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TikTok lifts ban on teen's account over video describing China's treatment of Uighurs


Social media video app TikTok on Thursday revoked its ban on an account belonging to the American teenager who posted a video in which she had chided China over its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang.
In a statement, TikTok said its moderation system had overstepped in blocking the account of Feroza Aziz, the 17-year-old Muslim-American girl.
"There has been significant interest and confusion regarding a user's two TikTok accounts and her viral video talking about the Uighur community in China," the company was quoted by The Hill as saying.
"We would like to apologise to the user for the error on our part this morning. In addition, we are reaching out to the user directly to inform her that we have 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 behaviour -- and it's clear that this was not the intent here," it said.
In the video that went viral earlier this week, Aziz, with a pink eyelash curler in hand, is seen giving a makeup tutorial. After a few seconds, she switches to the pressing issue of the treatment of Uighurs by the Chinese government.
"Use your phone that you are using right now to search up what is happening in China. How they are getting concentration camps, by throwing innocent Muslims in there," the teen said in the video.
The 40-second clip has garnered more than 4,98,000 likes on TikTok.
The teenager, a high school student in New Jersey, later revealed that her account was suspended by TikTok after posting the video.
The incident had raised concerns about whether TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, censors video content at Beijing's behest. However, the allegations were dismissed by the company's head Alex Zhu.
TikTok said that it is carrying out a broader review of its moderation process in the wake of the incident and announced it will put out a lengthier version of its guidelines in the coming months.
"We are reviewing both the procedural breakdown in this incident, as well as conducting a broader review on our process, to identify areas where we can improve our practice," TikTok said.
"To continue to provide transparency for our users, we will also be releasing our first transparency report as well a much fuller version of our community guidelines, both of which are on track to share with our community within the next two months," the company added.
The incident came in the backdrop of some Chinese Communist Party documents that were leaked over the high-security prison camps in the far western region of Xinjiang confirmed China's human rights violations of Uighur Muslims.
The China cables, which were obtained by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists - a global network of investigative journalists based in Washington - show how Uighurs are locked up, indoctrinated and punished inside the detention camps.
The investigation has found new evidence which undermines Beijing's claims that the detention camps, which have been built across Xinjiang in the last three years to detain at least a million Uighur Muslims, provide voluntary re-education purposes to counter extremism to the inmates who are detained without trial.
China has consistently claimed that the detention centres in Xinjiang offer voluntary education and training.

Disclaimer: No Business Standard Journalist was involved in creation of this content

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First Published: Nov 29 2019 | 4:38 AM IST

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