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TikTok apologizes for removing viral video criticizing Chinese treatment of Uighur Muslim community

The video was removed due to human error, TikTok says.

An anti-Chinese video went viral on TikTok earlier this week.
James Martin/CNET

TikTok has published a lengthy blog post addressing the "interest and confusion" surrounding an anti-Chinese video that went viral earlier this week. A young TikTok user had posted a makeup video while raising awareness about Uighur Muslim community being detained in China. TikTok said Wednesday it wanted to "clarify" and apologize for human error in removing the video.

TikTok, a social media platform where users post short videos, has been downloaded more than 1.5 billion times. The Chinese app is reportedly under investigation by the US over national security concerns.

TikTok US head of safety Eric Han explained Wednesday that the user in question had previously been banned on Nov. 14 after posting an image of Osama bin Laden, because it breached the social media platform's policy against having terrorist-related imagery. She then created a new account and on Nov. 23 posted the video speaking about the Uighur community in China.

She was then banned again, TikTok said, "as part of a scheduled platform-wide enforcement" on Nov. 25 due to her device being associated with the first account. The video was removed on Nov. 27 "due to a human moderation error," according to TikTok.

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"It's important to clarify that nothing in our Community Guidelines precludes content such as this video, and it should not have been removed," Han added.

The video was set live again 50 minutes later after a senior moderation team member noticed the error, and has now been viewed more than 1.5 million times through the app.

"We would like to apologize to the user for the error on our part," TikTok said. "We are reaching out to the user directly to inform her that we've decided to override the device ban in this case."