On Wednesday, popular social media platform TikTok announced a range of new community guidelines, including the ban of content that explicitly “denies well-documented and violent events have taken place.”
The new guideline comes under “hateful ideology” and applies to things such as Holocaust denial and Sandy Hook conspiracies, a TikTok spokesman confirmed to Business Insider.
This isn’t the first time, however, TikTok has attempted to censor its content.
In December last year, an explosive report from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) labelled TikTok “heavy-handed” and suggested it is using its global scale to advance Beijing’s political agenda.
The Mapping more of China’s tech giants: AI and surveillance report looked at TikTok’s parent company ByteDance, which it says “collaborates with public security bureaus across China, including in Xinjiang where it plays an active role in disseminating the party-state’s propaganda”.
“ByteDance is uniquely susceptible to other problems that come with its closeness to the censorship and surveillance apparatus of the CCP (Communist Party of China)-led state,” the report states.
“Beijing has demonstrated a propensity for controlling and shaping overseas Chinese-language media.
“The meteoric growth of TikTok now puts the CCP in a position where it can attempt to do the same on a largely non-Chinese speaking platform—with the help of an advanced AI-powered algorithm.”
ASPI compares TikTok with its Western social media counterparts, which have “tended to favour as much free speech as possible”.
TikTok, however, isn’t the only social media company with policies surrounding conspiracy theories.
In 2018, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he Holocaust denial content would not be banned on Facebook.
He said: “I find [Holocaust denial] deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don’t believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don’t think that they’re intentionally getting it wrong.”
In June last year, YouTube updated its guidelines to put an explicit ban on Holocaust denial.