From WeChat to TikTok, the most popular Chinese-owned social media are increasingly censoring content in the U.S and elsewhere, taking procedures crafted to an international audience for years behind the Great Firewall. ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok often buries or hides words that reflect gender, political movements, and sexual orientation or religion in its operating countries. As per a report published on Tuesday, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said that Most of the censored content on WeChat supported Hong-Kong pro-democracy activists, as well as messages
about a new national security law enacted by Beijing in late June that provoked protests across the city. from US and UK embassies
One of the authors, Fergus Ryan said Many political protests started in TikTok, including the Black Lives Matter movement. LGBTQ issues related to Hashtags were also spread in several languages. Other censored topics also included criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The findings may provide ammunition to the Trump administration, which banned WeChat from TikTok and Tencent Holdings Ltd after accusing the apps of bending to the will of Beijing in censoring content, potentially affecting the November elections.
Social media platforms like Facebook corrects content such as hate speech. WeChat has abided to domestic controls, while TikTok, which operates only outside of China, has forced back on claims that it is influenced by the country’s government.
Washington’s goes against TikTok and WeChat underline how the internet decoupling concept is becoming a reality. The ban on TikTok and WeChat by the Trump administration comes into effect in mid-September, when both apps are likely to be taken off app stores but may remain accessible to many American users. WeChat can be a powerful vector in countries like the US where the Chinese diaspora is substantial since it is often a major source of information for that population.
But the reports say that principles such as free speech are not part of the core values of those apps, rather they are more likely to over-censor to align with the wishes of local government. ByteDance is now engulfed in sensitive discussions about a US-based TikTok takeover with suitors including Microsoft Corp. and Oracle Corp., an estimated $20 billion deal.