Chinese government asks TikTok to create secret propaganda accounts

TikTok executives will reject the plan, report Bloomberg after looking at the internal communication. This is a message sent in April 2020 to Elizabeth Kanter, TikTok’s head of government relations for the UK, Ireland, Israel and the Netherlands.

A colleague allegedly showed Kanter a post in which “the Chinese government branch showed interest in participating on TikTok, but not openly as a government account because its main purpose is to promote the best side of China (a kind of propaganda)”. Kanter and his American counterpart, Erich Andersen, allegedly rejected the request because it was “sensitive”.

TikTok talks about ‘informal requests’

TikTok did not deny the situation, but downplayed the request as an “informal request from a friend of an employee,” according to Bloomberg. “We have decided not to support this request because we believe that creating such an account would be against our own terms,” ​​a TikTok spokesperson said.

TikTok has rules that prohibit “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” which is meant to suppress clandestine political advertising, for example.

TikTok under fire for Chinese tires

TikTok’s Chinese parent company, ByteDance, has been criticized for alleged ties to the Chinese government. In 2020, the US government described TikTok as “the mouthpiece of the Communist Party”. At the end of his term, then-President Trump spent months trying to get TikTok to be forcibly taken over by an American company. In the end, that didn’t happen.

TikTok, meanwhile, is still under fire. The company acknowledged earlier this month that some Chinese employees had access to US user data. And the US telecoms regulator FCC has asked Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores over concerns about how the Chinese app’s parent company handles user data. That hasn’t happened yet.

Astrid Marshman

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