Social media video app TikTok, on Thursday, revoked its ban on an account belonging to the American teenager who had earlier posted a video in which she had chided China over its treatment of Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang. While justifying the move, TikTok, in a statement said that 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 a media portal as saying. The official statement that came from the company further said, "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."
In the video that went viral earlier this week, Aziz, with a pink eyelash curler in hand, can be seen giving a makeup tutorial. However, 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 gathered more than 4,98,000 likes on TikTok in no time.
The teenager, a high school student in New Jersey, while speaking about the video, later revealed that her account was suspended by TikTok after posting the video. The incident then flared up concerns about whether TikTok which is a company 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, in its statement, while clearing the air around the issue, 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 video came just in time when 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 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. Meanwhile, China has consistently claimed that the detention centres in Xinjiang offer voluntary education and training.
(With ANI Inputs)