As per the latest news circulating on the internet, Chinese tech company ByteDance Ltd. has censored content criticizing the government of China on news its aggregation app in Indonesia from 2018 to mid-2020.
ByteDance purchased Indonesian news aggregator BaBe in 2018 after TikTok was temporarily suspended in the country for broadcasting objectionable videos. Soon after the acquisition of BaBe, the local administrators were advised by a team from ByteDance’s Beijing headquarters to remove posts considered as negative about the Chinese authorities from the app.
BaBe moderators were also instructed not to post any posts on the TikTok ban while talks with the Indonesian government were ongoing. Under the updated BaBe rules, stories from media partners that were viewed as dismissive of the Chinese government would either not be published on the BaBe website or would be deleted from the app.
The rules modified in the second quarter of 2020 as it became possible to read posts on previously blocked topics on BaBe.
Meanwhile, BaBe dismissed all allegations against the company. The company said in the statement that it moderated the content according to its community guidelines that were in line with the local laws of Indonesia.
ByteDance in Beijing said that there was no more clarification beyond the BaBe comment.
Indonesia, a nation of 270 million with more than half the population under 30, is one of ByteDance’s rapidly expanding markets. According to reliable sources, TikTok had more than 147 million downloads in the country.
ByteDance also bought BaBe’s full services, in which the company had already been a majority investor. Shortly after, the moderation instructions for BaBe were created by a team from ByteDance’s Beijing headquarters. The app utilizes artificial intelligence to collect news from hundreds of Indonesian media sources.