The most popular Chinese-owned social media from WeChat to TikTok are increasingly censoring content in the U.S. and elsewhere, taking practices honed for years behind the Great Firewall to an international audience.
ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok often buries or hides words that reflect political movements, gender and sexual orientation or religion in most countries where it operates, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute said in a report released Tuesday. Most of the content censored on WeChat supported pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong, as well as messages from the U.S. and U.K. embassies regarding a new national security law enacted by Beijing at the end of June that has provoked protests across the city.
TikTok, which began as a place where teens lip-sync to music, has become a forum for political protest including the Black Lives Matter movement, said Fergus Ryan, one of the authors. Hashtags related to LGBT issues were also suppressed in several languages, according to the report. Other topics censored in the past included criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin.