Friday 24 March 2023

Ex-NBA Player Says TikTok Blocked Him For Posting About ‘China’s Human Rights Abuses’

 Former NBA player-turned-human rights activist Enes Freedom said that TikTok is censoring information damaging to the Chinese state.

Freedom, who has played for several NBA teams including the Boston Celtics and New York Knicks, said he downloaded the Chinese-owned video-sharing app and posted about China’s human rights abuses.

“I bought myself a second phone and downloaded Tiktok to start posting about China’s human rights abuses,” Freedom tweeted on Thursday. Freedom said he was quickly booted from the platform. He believes China’s government was behind the decision.

“It literally took the CCP one week to ban me permanently,” he wrote, adding, “TikTok is a Chinese Communist surveillance vehicle!”

“Stop stealing people’s information!” Freedom added.

Freedom shared what appear to be screenshots of his TikTok account after it was banned.

“Your account was permanently banned for violating our Community Guidelines. To appeal this decision, include a description of the issue below,” read TikTok’s message on Freedom’s account.

TikTok appears to have reviewed and responded to Freedom’s appeal, according to another screenshot. TikTok’s message to Freedom says the account still violates TikTok’s guidelines and “cannot be restored.”

“You’ll no longer be able to log into TikTok with your account,” the message reads, according to a screenshot.

Freedom was born in Turkey and immigrated to the U.S. as a teenager. He became an American citizen in 2021 and legally changed his last name to Freedom in honor of the occasion.

In 2022, Freedom was cut by the Houston Rockets, effectively halting his NBA career. Freedom has said he believes he was cut due to his outspoken criticism of the Chinese Communist Party.

“Because in recent months, I spoke out against what is happening in China,” Freedom said at the time. “Listen, the Chinese market is a significant part of the business in the NBA. So they will allow you to talk freely about what you want until it hurts their pocket. As soon as you do that, they will cut you. It is very sad and unacceptable.”

TikTok is currently under scrutiny from lawmakers in Washington over national security concerns related to how the company handles Americans’ data. 

The Biden administration has threatened to ban TikTok in the U.S. unless TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, sells the U.S. version of the app.

On Thursday, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew testified before the House Energy and Commerce Committee and attempted to reassure lawmakers that there is no reason to ban TikTok. However, Chew did not answer directly when asked whether Chinese officials at ByteDance had helped him prepare for the congressional hearing.

Chew also said he opposes a forced sale of the U.S. TikTok app.

The tensions over TikTok have put the Chinese and U.S. governments at odds with each other. The Chinese government weighed in on Thursday, saying it will “firmly oppose” the sale of TikTok.

On Tuesday amid the scrutiny, TikTok updated its Community Guidelines to include new restrictions, around the topic of climate change and vaccines as well as restrictions on AI-generated images of young people and private figures.

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