TikTok has issued a public apology after the viral video site removed a video of a teenager requesting viewers to research the persecution of Uighur people. The video highlighted the fact that Uighurs and other Muslim groups have experienced regular abuse in Xinjiang, China.
Question marks were raised after the inoffensive but politically charged video was deleted, and TikTok has now explained the issue from its perspective, issuing a “clarification on the timeline of events”.
The viral video had been removed from the highly popular site just a few days after it was posted on November 23. TikTok has attributed this to a human moderation error, after confirming that the content did not violate any of the community guidelines associated with the platform.
But the poster of the video, a young woman by the name of Feroza Aziz, has rejected the claims of the company. Aziz describes herself in her Twitter profile as “just a Muslim trying to spread awareness,” and questioned the claims of TikTok in a tweet.
“Do I believe they took it away because of an unrelated satirical video that was deleted on a previous deleted account of mine? Right after I finished posting a 3 part video about the Uyghurs? No,” Aziz asserted.
The video removed by TikTok began with Aziz providing make-up tips, before telling viewers to put down eyelash curlers, and instead use their phones to research what is currently happening in China, and how the government is using concentration camps on what Aziz described as innocent Muslims.
Aziz provided considerable detail on how the authorities have been guilty of separating families, along with some other considerably more serious accusations. Aziz described the situation as another holocaust, yet highlighted the fact that the issue hasn’t received enough mainstream attention.
TikTok is highly popular in China, and its removal of the video will spark concerns that the company has responded to pressure from the Chinese Communist Party. In China itself, TikTok is subjected to rigorous censorship laws, as the government in China carefully controls all digital media. TikTok has also announced its intention to move into music streaming.
The persecution of Muslim minority groups in China has been particularly publicized over the last couple of months, after leaked classified Chinese government documents were published by The New York Times. These reports confirmed previous eyewitness accounts, which had been distributed via online media.
Aziz told BuzzFeed News that she is passionate about the issue of discrimination against Muslims in China because “as a Muslim girl, I’ve always been oppressed and seen my people be oppressed, and I’ve always been into human rights.”
TikTok has apologized for its conduct in deleting the video, with the head of safety in the United States for TikTok, Eric Tan, noting that the platform is reliant on technology in order to uphold community guidelines, with human moderation as a back-up, acknowledging that at times this process will not be perfect.