The Australian government asked TikTok to remove or restrict content 45 times in 2020 making it one of the world’s biggest attempted TikTok censors.
In those requests, the government targeted 112 accounts for restriction and was successful 76 times.
Only the Russian government knocked out more TikTok accounts with 103 restrictions from the 634 it went after.
The US, UK, and Canada made a combined 20 requests for content removal in 2020.
TikTok – a short video sharing platform popular among teens and young adults – publishes data about government requests in its transparency reports.
“When we receive requests from government agencies to restrict or remove content on our platform in accordance with local laws, we review all material in line with our community guidelines, terms of service, and applicable law, and take the appropriate action,” TikTok said.
“If we believe that a request isn't legally valid or doesn't violate our standards, we may restrict the availability of the reported content in the country where it is alleged to be illegal or we may take no action.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison went after TikTok last year after a video of a suicide was circulated nesting within other content.
“Those who run these organisations have a responsibility to those who are watching it and particularly when it comes to children,” he said at the time.
“That is why we’ve taken strong action through the eSafety Commission to make sure these sort of things don’t happen.”
Currently the government is looking to expand the eSafety Commissioner’s powers through a new Online Safety Bill introduced into parliament this week.
The legislation will give the eSafety Commissioner greater abilities to issue takedown notices to hosting services – like TikTok – to remove offending content that is abusive or bullying.
TikTok does not go into detail about what kinds of video content the government tries to remove from its platform, but Facebook’s more detailed transparency reports provide some insight into what kind of content the Australian government tries to remove.
For the first half of last year, Facebook removed 51 pieces of content at the government’s request.
Of those, 46 related to defamation, while the rest were spread out across gambling, violent graphic content, contraventions of personal intervention orders, and a post pretending to be government COVID-19 information.