TikTok suspended a teen who posted a viral takedown of China disguised
TikTok suspended a teen girl who posted a series of viral videos which appeared to be makeup tutorials but actually aggressively condemned the Chinese government for its mass oppression of Uighur Muslims.
But the video-sharing app claims it suspended her because she had previously posted a video about the terrorist Osama bin Laden, rather than for her posts attacking China.
Feroza Aziz went viral on Monday for posting three videos. They looked like advice on how to curl your eyelashes, but actually called on viewers to “be aware” of China’s coordinated crackdown on Muslims
“Hi guys, I want to teach you guys how to get long lashes. So the first thing you need to do is get your lash curler, curl your lashes obviously, then you’re going to put them down and use your phone that you’re using right now to search what’s happening in China right now,” she said in one video, posted on Monday under the handle @getmefamouspartthree.
“How they’re getting concentration camps, throwing innocent Muslims in there, separating their families from each other, kidnapping them, murdering them, raping them, forcing them to eat pork, forcing them to drink, forcing them to convert to different religions, or else they’ll get murdered.”
You can watch the videos here:
Aziz was referring to the mass surveillance and detention of Uighurs, a mostly-Muslim ethnic minority in the western region of Xinjiang, also known as East Turkestan.
Her charges against China mostly match those made by rights groups, news outlets, and former prisoners, though there is no suggestion that China is murdering its detainees.
Even while posting the videos, she appeared aware that TikTok could crack down on the video. In another video in the series, she said: “Hey guys, you wanted a second video on how to get longer lashes, so here it is. By the way, I say that so TikTok doesn’t take down my videos,” before discussing China’s Uighur oppression.
Shortly after the videos were posted, she received a message from TikTok saying that her account had been temporarily “due to multiple violations of our Community Guidelines,” she tweeted.
The message did not specify which guidelines the teenager had violated. Her videos remain live on her TikTok feed, which has not been updated since her protest videos.
A demonstrator wearing a mask painted with the colours of the flag of East Turkestan and a hand bearing the colours of the Chinese flag attends a protest of supporters of the mostly Muslim Uighur minority and Turkish nationalists to denounce China’s treatment of ethnic Uighur Muslims during a deadly riot in July 2009 in Urumqi, in front of the Chinese consulate in Istanbul, on July 5, 2018. – Nearly 200 people died during a series of violent riots that broke out on July 5, 2009 over several days in Urumqi, the capital city of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, in northwestern China, between Uyghurs and Han people.TikTok on Tuesday said Aziz’s account was not suspended because of the Uighur protest videos, but because she had posted a video about of Osama bin Laden on a previous account.
“TikTok does not moderate content due to political sensitivities,” a company spokesman told Business Insider in a statement.
“In this case, the user’s previous account and associated device were banned after she posted a video of Osama Bin Laden, which is a violation of TikTok’s ban on promoting terrorists.”
A source familiar with the case told Business Insider that Aziz had posted a video related to bin Laden – the al-Qaeda chief who engineered the September 11, 2001, attacks – on a previous account, @getmefamousplzsir.
This, they said, was the cause for the ban. The source declined to explain what exactly the bin Laden video showed.
The source claimed that Aziz responded to the ban by making a second account, where she posted the anti-China videos.
She received the ban notice due to a technical error by which suspended users who open new accounts do not immediately have their devices blocked, the source claimed. The source said the timing of the suspension message and the anti-China videos was a coincidence.
Aziz has not responded to Business Insider’s requests for comment on the suspension.
Aziz’s suspension comes as TikTok faces increasing criticism over its treatment of politically sensitive content on its platform.
TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a company from Beijing. Chinese tech companies often comply with orders from the government.
Multiple outlets have in recent months reported that TikTok employees remove or restrict content deemed “problematic” by the Chinese government.
The company is reportedly considering a rebrand in the US to distance itself from China, and has repeatedly insisted that it does not remove or demote politically sensitive content.
Aziz is not the first person to post videos standing up for the Uighurs on TikTok. This summer, dozens of Uighurs living in Xinjiang posted videos on Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, appearing to show old family photos with footage edited to show themselves crying or gesturing.
It appeared to be the first time Uighurs physically in the region were able to communicate with the outside world amid the crackdown.