Bytedance/TikTok automated Uyghur censorship
Occurred: February 2021
The Chinese government demanded TikTok owner Bytedance develop algorithms to identify and automatically delete Uyghur language posts, giving creedance to rumours of ethnic censorship by Beijing.
The employee, who worked for a technology team that supports Bytedance's central Trust and Safety team, also alleged the company is also actively censoring and deleting content critical of Beijing.
The employee wrote pseudonymously in Protocol that the technologies created by his team 'supported the company's entire content moderation in and outside China, including Douyin at home and its international equivalent TikTok'.
Rumours of Bytedance's close relationship with the Chinese government, and its surveillance and censorship of Uyghur-related content through its Douyin and TikTok services have long circulated.
Country: China; Global
Purpose: Identify/remove toxic content
Technology: Recommendation algorithm
Issue: Freedom of expression - censorship