Over the past few days, a popular video made by TikTok user @getmefamousplzsir went viral and was circulating the internet where the account holder spoke about the persecution of Uighur Muslims in China at the hands of the government. Two days after the clip was posted on the social media platform, TikTok took the video offline and banned the user from the app.
Today ByteDance's social media application explained the reason behind this move and also issued an apology for taking such a controversial decision. The blog post on TikTok's newsroom states that TikTok user @getmefamousplzsir had two accounts on the platform both associated with one smartphone. Apparently, the other account - @getmefamousplzsir - was previously banned for posting content relating to Osama Bin Laden, due to which the user's device was blocked. This caused the user to lose access to her current account and subsequently caused the viral Uighur video takedown.
In the official apology, TikTok admitted that the video was not in violation of any rules or policies on the platform and therefore should not have been taken offline at all. The mistake was credited to 'a human moderation error'.
Eric Han, Head of Safety at TikTok U.S., wrote"
"We would like to apologize 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've 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 behavior – and it's clear that this was not the intent here. This user can again access her active account (@getmefamouspartthree) from the device she was using previously."
As of right now, the user who posted the popular video has been reinstated and has regained access to her account. As for the video, it is also back online and currently has upwards of 1.5 million views on the app.
In light of this incident, TikTok has decided to revise its policies and practices in order to avoid repeating similar mistakes in the future. Additionally, the social media platform also plans to release its first-ever transparency report and a 'fuller version' of its Community Guidelines over the course of the next two months.