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TikTok confirms it has banned former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom


Enes Kanter Freedom, the former NBA player known for his outspoken political activism against China, was banned from TikTok for 12 days before being reinstated on Thursday when lawmakers grilled the Chinese company’s chief, confirmed the company on Friday.

Freedom’s account was banned on March 11 after it received multiple warnings that its videos violated the app’s “community guidelines,” he told The Washington Post.

Freedom appealed the ban soon after, but was told that TikTok reviewers had determined that his account would not be restored. On Thursday, TikTok reinstated the account while CEO Shou Zi Chew was on Capitol Hill to argue that Americans’ TikTok streams are unaffected by China’s censorship rules.

A TikTok representative called the ban a mistake by the company’s US moderators and said that TikTok does not remove content at the request of the Chinese government. They declined to say how the error occurred or what rules past Freedom videos allegedly violated.

Since his reinstatement, Freedom has used his TikTok account, where he has 362,000 followers and more than 6 million likes, to post about the episode. He said he intended to continue posting on TikTok, which he said China uses to “brainwash our people”, because it wanted to use “its own weapon against them”.

Freedom shared screenshots and a screen recording that backed up their claims. TikTok did not challenge the ban, but said such errors are the natural consequence of an app with more than 150 million US accounts.

TikTok faces uncertain future after 5 hour beating in Congress

Rep. August Pfluger (R-Tex.), who spoke with Freedom ahead of the hearing, asked Chew about the ban during a heated round of questions in which Pfluger also asked if Chew supported genocide. . (Chew said no.)

Pfluger said he suspected the company of “hiding information” and that the reinstatement was ordered by the Chinese Communist Party, which the company disputed. The lawmaker said the episode underscored the national security risks of allowing a China-based company to own one of America’s most popular apps.

While Chinese authorities are “the arbiter of what can and cannot be shown,” he told the Post, “they have the ability to shape the messages. So what are these messages and how do they relate to the weakening of the United States? »

China goes after Western companies as it tries to reduce support for Hong Kong protests

Freedom, a Turkish-American gamer who changed his last name after becoming a US citizen in 2021, has become a popular right-wing figure due to his vocal criticism of China and companies he says have failed. resisted his authoritarian government, including Nike and the NBA.

While playing in the NBA for more than a decade, he drew attention for wearing shoes with slogans such as ‘Free Tibet’, ‘No Beijing’ and ‘Stop Genocide’, a reference to mass detention by China of Uyghur Muslims in the Xinjiang region. In 2021, he was traded from the Boston Celtics and then released from the game, which he said was in retaliation for his criticism of China.

Freedom has often used its social media accounts to criticize the Chinese state. After a Facebook post in 2021 calling President Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” due to his government’s oppression of Tibet, China blocked all Celtics games on its internet.

Freedom used his TikTok account in the same way. A TikTok video from last April, showing strict coronavirus control measures in Shanghai, remains live on the platform and has more than 200,000 views.

This dissident uses Chinese-owned TikTok to criticize the Chinese government

TikTok, like other social networks, uses an account enforcement system to track rule violations and penalize repeat offenders. Instead of a “three strikes” policy, TikTok’s system applies different weights to violations based on their severity and bans accounts that exceed a certain threshold.

A representative for TikTok said some of Freedom’s past violations were valid, but did not specify which ones and said the moderation error improperly overturned his account.

Freedom told the Post that he had received warnings in previous months and did not know which video triggered the ban. Her last TikTok video viewable before the ban, on March 9, broke no obvious rules and only showed female protesters in Afghanistan.

He showed The Post a screenshot from his TikTok account showing how a video he posted last year, showing cats tied in bags on a sidewalk in China awaiting execution, had been deleted for an unspecified violation of the Community Guidelines. TikTok restored the video after questions from The Post.

Since his reinstatement, Freedom has posted TikTok videos criticizing the company and calling Chew a “liar” and a Communist Party “puppet” that have been viewed thousands of times.

Americans deserve a better message than “Trust us, TikTok is bad.”

Freedom said he was in Washington for meetings with lawmakers critical of China’s influence and attended a dinner Wednesday with lawmakers and Silicon Valley figures to discuss alleged security risks. national TikTok.

Freedom said it had meetings scheduled for Friday with members of the House China Committee. Pfluger said Freedom was invited to a markup session of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which hosted the Chew hearing, and received a standing ovation.

TikTok’s moderation system has been criticized for its “random” approach to account suspensions, even beyond political or China-related issues.

Freedom’s ban parallels similar criticism of TikTok’s enforcement actions, including the 2019 suspension of Feroza Aziz, a 17-year-old TikTok user who had criticized detention camps in China.

TikTok has also restored this account, accusing a moderation error. Aziz’s 164,000 follower account features videos about the Uyghur camps that have been viewed millions of times.

The TikTok platform in the US has plenty of videos addressing issues the Chinese government is restricting within its borders, including the #Uyghur treatment (278m views), the #TiananmenSquare pro-democracy protests (18m of views); and #FreeTibet (13 million views).


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