TikTok and WeChat: Curating and Controlling Global Information Flow
TikTok and WeChat, two social media platforms run by Chinese companies, are using censorship and heavy content moderation to help further the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) agenda worldwide according to a new report released by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Titled TikTok and WeChat: Curating and Controlling Global Information Flow, the authors shed light on how these platforms are controlling the information flow related to various political and social issues, including topics like Tibetan independence and LGBTQ+ rights.
This report recommends (on page 50) that governments implement transparent user data privacy and user data protection frameworks that apply to all social media networks. If companies refuse to comply with such frameworks, they shouldn’t be allowed to operate. Independent audits of social media algorithms should be conducted. Social media companies should be transparent about the guidelines that human moderators use and what impact their decisions have on their algorithms. Governments should require that all social media platforms investigate and disclose information operations being conducted on their platforms by state and non-state actors. Disclosures should include publicly releasing datasets linked to those information campaigns.
But achieving this across all social media may be difficult. As the report points out, Chinese companies are required by law to promote CCP propaganda, and the Chinese government enforces strict regulations over the content published on these platforms. Considering also that the technology being utilized is still advancing, the authors conclude that the capacity for these companies to control the flow of information will only continue to grow.
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