- A former diplomat for the Chinese government was head of TikTok’s global content moderation team for two years, the Financial Times reported.
- Cai Zheng was a diplomat at the Chinese embassy in Iran prior to taking up the post at TikTok.
- The company has long maintained that Beijing influences its content moderation policy. The FT reported that Cai is not a Chinese Communist Part ideologue.
- Cai’s time at TikTok coincides with numerous instances of the suppression of topics such as LGBTQ issues, Tibetan independence and even users deemed too “ugly” to be seen on the main page.
- A TikTok spokesperson told Business Insider that Cai was not involved in devising its early policies but oversaw efforts to localize them internationally.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
TikTok hired a former Chinese diplomat to oversee its global content policy unit, which decided what content should be allowed on the short-form video app, according to the Financial Times (FT).
Cai Zheng worked in China’s embassy in Iran for four years prior to taking up the role at TikTok, a post he held until early this year, the FT reported.
During his tenure, the company was criticized for restricting LGBT content in some countries, and also posts about Uighur Muslims,a minority group being monitored and incarcerated en masse in western China.
Cai was part of the company’s global trust and safety team in Beijing and wrote guidelines for what users can post on TikTok and other apps, two people close to the company told the FT.
His background will likely add to scrutiny of the relationship between TikTok and the Chinese authorities. The app, and its parent company ByteDance, have repeatedly denied that Beijing has influence over its content.
Sources close to the company argued that Cai’s role is not proof of