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Chinese-Owned TikTok Backs Down, Reverses Ban of Teen Girl Whose Viral Video Called Out Oppression of Muslim Uighurs

TikTok, the social media app owned by a Chinese tech corporation, backed down from and apologized for its ban of American teenager Feroza Aziz, after one of her videos — cleverly disguised as a make-up tutorial— went viral for its criticism of the Chinese government’s oppression of Muslim Uighurs.

The video, which was viewed millions of times before Aziz said the company suspended her account on Monday, called out China’s “concentration camps” and said that country was “throwing innocent Muslims in there, separating their families from each other, kidnapping them, murdering them, raping them, forcing them to eat pork, forcing them to drink [alcohol], forcing them to convert to different religions.” Ironically, Aziz had tried to pre-empt any censorship by TikTok by intermittently demonstrating an eyelash curler during the video while seamlessly transitioning between offering beauty advice and a political condemnation of China. (A version of the same video was also posted on Aziz’s Instagram account, and can be viewed here.)

According to the Washington Post, the 17-yeay-old Aziz was notified on Wednesday — after worldwide uproar over her suspension — that TikTok would be restoring full access to her account and reviewing its content guidelines. TikTok claimed that the viral video in question was only taken down for less than an hour and was not the trigger for her account ban. Instead, the company cited another, earlier sarcastic video of Aziz’s that included an image of 9/11 terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden.

The video-sharing company, which is owned by the Chinese conglomerate Bytedance, has recently come under bipartisan Congressional scrutiny over censorship claims and possible threats to national security. It has also been the subject of a #DeleteTikTok campaign from politicians such as Florida Senator Marco Rubio.

“TikTok is trying to cover up this whole mess,” a still dissatisfied Aziz, who is Muslim, told the Post. “I won’t let them get away with this.”

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