Chinese company TikTok to remove videos of President Trump that they say feature “misinformation”

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The vine-influenced video sharing platform TikTok, which said platform’s parent company ByteDance has ties to the Chinese Communist Party, is now banning videos featuring President Trump that may spread misinformation or “incite, glorify or promote violence”. 

President Trump himself does not personally maintain a TikTok account – as he and others in Washington have been highly critical of the platform for numerous reasons. 

But due to the events that recently unfolded at the nation’s capitol, the video platform will ban any videos that feature any speeches delivered by President Trump where he alleges any sort of voter fraud occurred that altered the outcome of the U.S. election. 

Furthermore, hashtags typically used on the platform by participants of the riot that ensued at the Capitol Building will effectively be disabled so as to limit the spread of any content associated with the actions that played out on January 6th. 

But this doesn’t mean that videos that feature any of the criminal acts that transpired at the nation’s capitol will be banned – they just have to be presented in a particular context if shared. 

For example, videos that might showcase some of the acts of property damage, violence and the ilk at the Capitol Building can be shared if the user integrates commentary that disavows the actions or portrays what occurred in a negative light. 

In other forms of content moderation, TikTok will also be removing videos uploaded that “incite, glorify or promote violence” – whether featuring President Trump or not:

“Hateful behavior and violence have no place on TikTok. Content or accounts that seek to incite, glorify or promote violence violate our Community Guidelines and will be removed.”

The move by TikTok comes on the heels of several major social media outlets that have banned President Trump from their respective platforms. 

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TikTok has played host to a series of controversies in the past year. One of the more bizarre and disturbing ones was a trend on the platform where prison inmates were uploading videos on the platform. 

We at Law Enforcement Today reported on that phenomenon back in July of 2020. 

Here’s that previous report. 

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Apparently being behind bars is turning into quite the cushy life.

While incarcerated, inmates across the country are using the social media platform, TikTok to post videos. 

TikTok excels at connecting users based on their identities and as a result there is a corner of the app for almost everyone. 

For example, there are Cops of TikTokDoctors of TikTok, and Lesbians of TikTok.  With more than 2 million individuals incarcerated in prisons or jails in the United States, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there is a Prison Tiktok too. 

The only difference with Prison TikTok is that inmates are not allowed to have cells phones while incarcerated, so this means inmates that are posting to TikTok are doing so with a contraband cell phone.

Inmates are using contraband cells phones to post their dancing videos and funny skits, but they are also using contraband cell phones to share informations about living conditions at their respective facilities.  Kevin Smith, who was released from Florida’s South Bay Correctional Facility back in April posted many videos on TikTok while being incarcerated. 

In his most popular TikTok video, he shows off a makeshift water heater he built in prison.  Narrating over Eminem’s song, “Godzilla”, Smith explains how he diverted an electrical wire from a light fixture to a metal bucket hung from a hook on the wall.  The caption of the video reads:

“Before I made it to work release, this is how I made hot water!”

The video is tagged #prisonlife.  Smith said:

“I posted the video just to show people the ingenuity of prisoners.”

The lives of incarcerated individuals are typically hidden from the public eye, but amid a worldwide pandemic, nationwide protests on racism and police brutality, as well as a historic push for criminal justice reform, these videos that are being posted with contraband cell phones are going viral. 

Even though there are a lot of Prison TikTok videos of dancing and lip syncing, the most popular videos depict daily life where prisoners give tours of their cells, show how they cook, and film the stray cats who linger outside the barred windows. 

Some of these videos are getting viewed millions of times.  A clip featuring a group of inmates explaining how they made a bootleg phone charger has been viewed more than 10 million times. 

In another video, an inmate memes about the difficulties of being bisexual in an environment where macho masculinity is the norm; this video was viewed almost 9 million times. 

Some Prison TikTok accounts have amassed hundreds if not thousands of followers. 

A recent trend of Prison TikTok videos are about the fear of being incarcerated while the coronavirus rips through the country, including through prisons and jails. According to New York times data, the largest clusters of the virus in the US are not all inside prisons or jails; they are epicenters for the virus. 

Contraband cell phones are one of the few avenues for prisoners to call attention to problems from the inside.  However, in doing so, they are “risking a lot”.  According to Nazgol Ghandnoosh:

“When people in prison bring attention to these conditions, like on TikTok with their cell phones, they’re risking a lot.”

Ghandnoosh is a senior research analyst at The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit advocating from criminal justice reform. 

Cell phones are illegal in prison and for good reason as both Republicans and Democrats have argued that harsh punishments are necessary because call phones fuel violence in prison and allow inmates to facilitate crimes while they are incarcerated. 

Back in 2010, then president Barack Obama signed a law criminalizing the use or possession of mobile devices by federal inmates and permitting anyone caught smuggling one to be sentenced up to a year in prison.  Cell phones are also illegal to have at the state and local level prisons and jails. 

In a Fox News op-ed published last year, US senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) aruged that:

“Cell phones have quickly become inmates’ most dangerous connection to the outside world.”

Cell phones can be a major problem for prisons and jails. To the average correctional officer, a contraband weapon or drugs may be more dangerous inside the prison in the immediate term, but a mobile phone is more nefarious because the damage it can cause reaches far beyond the prison walls. 

Inmates can use a cell phone to continue drug dealing or organized crime operations; threaten public officials and intimidate witnesses and even coordinate murders. 

One recent example of the havoc cell phones can wreak from inside prison walls happened in 2018 when federal prosecutors said two inmates used smuggled cellphones to run a violent, drug dealing street gang from inside California’s super max security Pelican Bay State Prison. 

Another example is when South Carolina officials blamed a prison riot that killed seven inmates in April 2018 on a turf war between gangs over territory, money, and contraband items such as drugs and cellphones.

Is society coming apart at the seems?  Sometimes it seems that way.

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