Zeng Jiajun, a former Chinese internet censor, recounts some of his past experiences with Douyin and ByteDance.
He said that when he was doing this job, he didn’t think much about it because work is work. But he knew it was inconsistent with his moral standards. And once you work in this field for too long, the contradiction becomes more and more intense.
There are a lot of big lies and much-hidden history. These topics include a 3-hour documentary on the Tiananmen pro-democracy movement in 1989.
Zeng Jiajun said he was shocked to see the military’s violent crackdown on unarmed students, killing hundreds. No one ever told them about the Tiananmen incident, and you can’t find it on the Chinese internet.
Zeng Jiajun is a member of a team developing an automated system for filtering out unwanted content. If the system shows a problem, responsible people will delete the video or stop the live stream. It includes any politically sensitive content.
Some images are permanently banned. Such as pictures of tanks, candles, or yellow umbrellas. This is the symbol of the Hong Kong protests. The Cyberspace Administration of China provides ByteDance with a guideline to censor information.
In early 2020, Wuhan-based ophthalmologist Li Wenliang warned about pneumonia that was spreading in Wuhan. However, his information became censored. They said that the doctor was spreading misinformation.
After the death of Li Wenliang, Zeng Jiajun quit his job and moved back to Silicon Valley. He would not be able to return to China for at least ten years.