Any business operating in China has to comply with the communist government’s stringent censorship policies. Home-grown TikTok is no exception. It censors any content that threatens the communist regime, which includes topics like democracy, Christianity, Tibet, and LGBT.
“The guidelines divide banned material into two categories: Some content is marked as a “violation,” which sees it deleted from the site entirely and can lead to a user being banned from the service. But lesser infringements are marked as “visible to self,” which leaves the content up, but limits its distribution through TikTok’s algorithmically-curated feed,” according to leaked documents revealed by The Guardian.
Most of the content deemed to be “anti-China” by the government is mentioned in a section titled “hate speech and religion.” Criticizing the Chinese government’s policies or the country’s social system is banned. A similar ban exists when the content involves demonization or distortion of a country’s history. Through this rule, incidents like the Tiananmen Massacre and Cambodian genocide are censored. A general-purpose rule bans any topic like separatism, religious conflicts, and ethnic conflicts from being mentioned. As such, subjects like the conflict between Islamic sects, the Tibetan independence movement, ethnic tensions between blacks and whites, will have to be blocked by TikTok.
Content that contains information about Falun Gong is marked as a “violation,” since Beijing has falsely categorized the practice as “promoting suicide.” The spiritual practice has been clubbed together with the Aum cult of Japan that carried out the infamous attacks on the Tokyo Metro in 1995. TikTok is prohibited from circulating content that contains information about 20 foreign leaders and “sensitive figures.” Unsurprisingly, Donald Trump is on the list. Other banned leaders include Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and even Mahatma Gandhi.