Local Control Over Internet Content?

“Local” can mean national, and usually does at the big policy level. This is an age-old question, and certainly the GDPR qualifies, among other cases. China censors content and gets American providers to go along. Is this the way it should be?

Two cases are on the table now that concern this question.

Singapore is trying to compel Facebook to alter content universally because they say it violates their local laws, even though the content originated from an Australian citizen who does not live in Singapore.

The other, not so cut-and-dried, concerns TikTok, a Chinese company. The Chinese government will not allow criticism and shuts down any account they catch doing it. Huge amounts of kids and adults from other countries use TikTok and I suspect many have no idea who owns the company and what standards they apply. But indeed it is a case where Chinese government sets the standards of what is permissible are determining what kids in the west can and cannot say. Their Community Guidelines manage it with this rule, “DO NOT post, share, or send contents that may trigger hostility, including trolling or provocative remarks.” That is pretty broad and any kid would not likely realize just how broad it is.

Last week TikTok did reverse a ban on an account where the ban was initiated by a moderator bot, allowing it as satire. But it did not involve satire or critique about the Chinese government.