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Ban on ex NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom shows TikTok following China’s censorship rules

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(TibetanReview.net, Mar25’23) – TikTok, the international version of Douyin, the short-form video hosting service owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has denied being under the control of the Chinese government but has been found following its wishes in banning former NBA player Enes Kanter Freedom.

Freedom, a former NBA player known for his outspoken political activism against China, was banned from TikTok for 12 days before being reinstated on Mar 23, the day US lawmakers were grilling the Chinese-owned company’s chief, reported the washingtonpost.com Mar 24, citing the company itself.

The report said Freedom had appealed the ban shortly after but was told that TikTok reviewers had determined his account would not be restored.

But on Mar 23, TikTok reinstated the account while its CEO Shou Zi Chew was on Capitol Hill to argue that Americans’ TikTok feeds were unaffected by China’s restrictive censorship rules.

A TikTok representative has claimed that the ban was an error made by the company’s US-based moderators and that it does not remove content at the request of the Chinese government. However, they have declined to say how the error occurred or what rules Freedom’s past videos had allegedly violated.

Since being reinstated, 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 he wanted to use “their own weapon against them,” the report said.

During the congressional hearing, Rep. August Pfluger (R-Texas), who had earlier spoken with Freedom, asked Chew about the ban, and has also asked whether TikTok supported genocide, which the latter has denied.

But Pfluger was not satisfied, saying he suspected the company was “hiding information” and that the reinstatement had been ordered by the Chinese Communist Party.

Pfluger has said the episode underscored the national security risks of allowing a company based in China to own one of America’s most popular apps.

TikTok faces the prosect of being asked to detach itself from its Chinese parent company by selling it or to be otherwise banned in the US.

Freedom, a Turkish-American player who changed his last name after becoming a US citizen in 2021, has been an outspoken critic of China and the companies that he argues have not stood up to its 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 including “Free Tibet,” “No Beijing” and “Stop Genocide,” a reference to China’s mass incarceration of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang.

In 2021, he was traded from the Boston Celtics and then released from playing, which he has argued was in retaliation to his China criticism.

Freedom has often used his social media accounts to criticize the Chinese state. After a Facebook post in 2021 calling China’s president Xi Jinping a “brutal dictator” due to the country’s oppressive policies toward Tibet, China’s government blocked all Celtics games from the Chinese internet, the report noted. This apparently led to the end of his career as an NBA player.

The charge or suspicion against TikTok, with 1.5 million users in the USA, is not just that it censors contents for China but also that it is harvesting massive users’ data for the Chinese government.


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