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Anti-China Content In Indonesia Was Censored By ByteDance Till Mid-2020: Reuters

Anti-China Content In Indonesia Was Censored By ByteDance Till Mid-2020: Reuters
Content that were perceived to be critical of the Chinese government were censored by the Chinese tech giant ByteDance on its news aggregator app in Indonesia between 2018 till about middle of 2020, claimed a report published by the news agency Reuters. 
A team from ByteDance's Beijing headquarters instructed the local moderatos in Indonesia to censure and delete any article seen as "negative" for the Chinese authorities on the Baca Berita (BaBe) app, said the report citing sources with knowledge of the matter.
The claims made in the report by Reuters were refuted by BaBe and claimed that the policy of moderating of content is done according to its community guidelines and those are in ;line with the local laws of Indonesia, the report said. 
The above mentioned guidelines can found on the website of the company and those do not name China or the Chinese government. "A cursory search on the BaBe app shows numerous articles and videos that highlight the type of content these claims say we would remove," the statement from the company said.
No additional comment beyond what was made in the BaBe statement was made by ByteDance in Beijing. There were also no comments on the issue available from China's foreign ministry and its internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC).
ByteDance's short-video app TikTok which is widely popular in the United States, Indonesia and other countries has been threatened to be shut down by the US President Donald Trump over concerns of national security if the Chinese app was not sold to an American company.
Concerns over TikTok's data security practices have been raised by a number of lawmakers in the US including Republican Senator Josh Hawley and there were allegations that the company is also involved in censorship of content at the behest of the Chinese government.
About half of the population of 270 million of Indonesia is under the age of 30 years and is considered to be one of the fastest growing markets for ByteDance. According to data from app analytics firm SensorTowerm TikTok had more than 147 million downloads in the country.
According to officials, after TikTok was briefly banned in Indonesia for showing "pornography, inappropriate content and blasphemy", ByteDance purchased the Indonesian news aggregator BaBe in 2018.
With the aim of reversing the ban on TikTok, the demands of the Indonesian authorities to set up a team of local TikTok moderators and that of reinforcing its presence in the world's fourth largest country were agreed to by ByteDance.
After that the full operations of BaBe were bought by the Chinese firm after it had previously acquired a majority stake in it.
That was followed by a team from ByteDance's Beijing headquarters designing moderation guidelines for BaBe which makes use of artificial intelligence for aggregating stories from hundreds of Indonesian media outlets.
According to the Reuters report quoting sources, ByteDance then directed moderators of BaBe not to publish any content and articles on the TikTok ban during such time as negotiations with the Indonesian government were ongoing.
The report also quoted multiple sources saying that the new content moderating guidelines for BaBe also included not publishing of articles from partner media outlets which could be perceived to be against or critical of the Chinese government and those already published should be taken down from the BaBe app.
Those articles that taken down included those which had the keyword "Tiananmen," which was a reference to China's 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, or Mao Zedong, the founder of modern China.

Christopher J. Mitchell

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