A TikTok account belonging to the think tank Acton Institute has been restored after being “removed in error” days after promoting a documentary about a pro-democracy activist in Hong Kong, according to a spokesperson for the Chinese-owned app.
Acton Institute learned about noon Tuesday that its TikTok account had been suspended, Eric Kohn, the think tank’s director of marketing and communications, told The Daily Signal in a phone interview Thursday morning.
“We didn’t get any communication from TikTok about why the account was suspended,” Kohn said. “And in a kind of Kafkaesque way—the way that you would contest any kind of suspension is by logging into your account and contesting it—but when they suspend you, you can’t log into your account.”
Acton Institute describes itself as a think tank with a mission “to promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles.”
TikTok, a Chinese-owned social media platform, is widely popular in America but under scrutiny by many government officials and others because of concerns that the app collects users’ personal information.
“We submitted a request for clarification as to why [Acton’s TikTok account] was suspended and a request for it to be reinstated via their online feedback form,” Kohn told The Daily Signal.
The Wall Street Journal published an editorial Wednesday night about TikTok’s suspension of Acton.
“A couple hours after The Wall Street Journal posted their editorial last night,” Kohn said, “a spokesman from TikTok got back … and said that the account had been deleted in error and was now restored.”
A TikTok spokesperson told The Daily Signal that Acton Institute’s account “was removed in error and is available again on [the] platform.”
On April 18, Acton premiered a documentary titled “The Hong Konger” about Hong Kong newspaper publisher and pro-democracy activist Jimmy Lai.
It’s funny how these errors keep seeming to happen to accounts that post content that the Chinese Communist Party would not like, and certainly I can understand why they might not like our film because we’re telling the truth about what happens—what they’ve been doing to the people of Hong Kong, how they have been subjugating them and stripping them of their human rights, and how they’re persecuting people like Jimmy Lai and others who are fighting for freedom, democracy, and human rights in Hong Kong.
The suspension Tuesday was not the first time Acton Institute has been censored by TikTok, Kohn said:
Around the same time [that the Lai documentary premiered], we posted some promotional content about the film to our TikTok account. On the 21st of April, one of the videos was removed for violating the community guidelines for having graphic and violent content in it. The graphic and violent content in question was footage of Hong Kong police beating and tear-gassing protesters in Hong Kong in 2019. We contested that, and within a couple of hours the video was restored.
As of Thursday morning, Kohn confirmed that two videos on Acton’s TikTok account that were taken down Wednesday for allegedly violating the Chinese-owned app’s “community standards” also had been restored.
Shou Zi Chew, chief executive officer of TikTok, appeared March 23 before the House Energy and Commerce Committee for a hearing titled “TikTok: How Congress Can Safeguard American Data Privacy and Protect Children from Online Harms.”
ByteDance Ltd., a Chinese internet technology company, developed TikTok as a video-sharing social networking app.
“ByteDance is not owned or controlled by the Chinese government,” Chew told the House committee, even as a bipartisan group of lawmakers pushed to ban the popular app.
TikTok faces such bipartisan scrutiny at both the state and federal level. More than 30 states, led by Democratic and Republican governors alike, have taken action to ban the app on some or all state-issued devices and networks, as The Daily Signal previously reported.
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