A new strategy has emerged from TikTok users, in which they demonstrate their satirical appreciation for the Chinese government to try to trick the app’s algorithm and avoid bans, or even to become trending by being featured in the For You Page section.
While there’s no suggestion that this type of content alone actually helps with visibility in the algorithm, the satirical content has become popular and thus caused it to become a viral meme, which actually does lead to more visibility.
A history of conflict and censorship
Although it is difficult not to know TikTok’s history, let’s recap some key points that have led to the birth of the #ILoveChina tag. Developed by the Chinese company, ByteDance, the popular video platform has been linked multiple times to Beijing’s Communist Chinese Party. Although developers have said that they have no relationship with the government, the United States government, and other governments around the world, do not agree, saying that the application is an espionage mechanism.
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TikTok is already partially banned in the USA, where government officials are prohibited from installing it on their smartphones for security reasons. However, President Donald Trump is reportedly considering extending the ban to all citizens.
As if these allegations weren’t enough, the platform has also been involved in alleged censorship of harmless content that was not necessarily pleasing to the Chinese government or its standards. In this situation, some users have said that potentially “harmful” content can be published on TikTok, provided that the user supports the CCP.
This discovery has been the cause of the new trend that is flooding the platform, with thousands of users who are willing to risk their accounts to demonstrate that it is possible to avoid a ban on TikTok if support for China is demonstrated.
How are they doing it? In a creative way: using the #ILoveChina tag and adding the country’s National Anthem in the videos, they say. Although it sounds absurd, in some cases it seems that this technique has even allowed the videos to reach the For You Page section, meaning that the platform considers it high-quality content.
Here are some examples:
A new strategy of astute users
According to a report from the Stay Hipp portal, #ILoveChina and many other similar tags have already been seen more than 100 million times on the app. Videos using these tags would include images of the Chinese flag, texts like “I Love China”, the country’s national anthem, and anything else positive about the nation.
What started as an attempt to avoid unwarranted bans or even shadowbans, has become a trend that even seems to be affecting the app’s algorithm, which is posting the videos in the FYP section.
This is big, considering that nobody knew how the videos that reached this section were determined. Although the technique seems to be working, it remains to be seen how long ByteDance allows this to happen.