A global inquest into TikTok has done little to deter China from pushing stricter censorship on its own soil.
Official documents from TikTok’s parent company ByteDance have confirmed rumours that the viral video app is constantly running facial recognition technology to monitor and censor content on Douyin – China’s version of the platform.
Douyin may appear innocuous on the surface, but Chinese streamers are subject to an intrusive regime of automated surveillance every time they broadcast on the app. Granted, China’s Ministry of Culture had made noise pertaining to the banning of foreigners in livestreams back in 2017, but the rule has only started being enforced since China’s Security Law came into effect this July.
On that note, Douyin has reportedly started suspending users who speak in Cantonese during streams, as the branch of Chinese language is heavily associated with Hong Kong, and symbols of State independence are no longer welcome.
Last week, a foreign national found himself booted from Douyin within ‘about a minute’ for appearing briefly in someone else’s livestream, and his story garnered a fair bit of attention online. Joshua Dummer’s wife, who is a Chinese citizen, was broadcasting from their Beijing apartment and sidled over to ask how his day was going when the stream suddenly went dark. Dummer took to Twitter to reveal that the pair had been met with an error message forbidding the presence of foreign users without ‘government permission’.