In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Tuesday, a TikTok executive repeatedly refused to acknowledge China’s treatment of Uighurs and other Muslim minorities, which The U.S. Department of State has deemed the genocide and a United Nations report said could constitute “crimes against humanity.”
in response to Tapper’s question, “Do you admit that the Chinese government has Uighurs and others in concentration camps?” “That’s not what I focus on,” said Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of public policy in the Americas.
TikTok is a Chinese owned platform was born Thorough inspection via US legislators and security professionals as social media apps have become exponentially more popular over the past few years. Critics say China’s national security law could force TikTok — or its parent company, ByteDance — to provide the personal data of its customers in the United States.
Security experts have said the data could allow China to identify intelligence opportunities or seek to influence Americans through disinformation campaigns.
The company has also been accused of censoring politically sensitive content against the Chinese government, including banning some accounts from posting about China’s mass detention camps in China. western region of Xinjiang. The US State Department estimates that up to 2 million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities have been detained in these camps.
In August, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said in a report that China had committed “serious human rights violations” against the Uighurs, which could lead to “crimes against human”.
Given a second chance to acknowledge China’s alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Beckerman procrastinated again.
“I’m no expert on what’s happening in China,” Beckerman said. “So that’s not an area I’m focusing on.”
Beckerman denies censoring posts about concentration camps in Xinjiang, saying that censorship decisions are made in the US – not China – and that people can search the TikTok app to find them. “lots of content about that.”
“We do not moderate content on behalf of any government,” Beckerman said. “That doesn’t violate our content guidelines.”
Tapper pressed Beckerman for a third time, asking if TikTok executives feared being fired if they discussed China’s treatment of Uighurs. He again refused to admit it, saying only that China is one of the many bad guys in the world.
“Look, I think a lot of human rights violations are happening in China and around the world,” Beckerman said. “I think these are very important. I am not here to be an expert on human rights abuses around the world.”
A spokesperson for TikTok was not immediately available for comment.
In addition to security and privacy concerns, TikTok has also been criticized for providing potentially harmful content related to suicide and eating disorders to teenagers.
in one The report was published last weekThe nonprofit Digital Hate Center found that it can take less than three minutes after signing up for a TikTok account to view suicide-related content and around five minutes to find an advertising community. content about eating disorders.
Beckerman dismissed concerns raised by Tapper that some American parents might see that research and believe that “the Chinese government may be trying to destroy our children from within.” Beckerman nods at the parental controls in the app, but he calls Tapper’s argument hypocritical.
“The same people who are complaining about staff in China and behavior from China, and all of this… they are also suggesting that in the United States, we should apply the rules,” says Beckerman. Chinese media. “We have freedom of speech, among other things here in the United States.”