Of the 711 pieces of content removed by the app in 2020 due to government requests, 296 came from Moscow. Theo Bertram, TikTok’s director of government relations and public policy in Europe, explained that the company always complies with valid legal requests, where applicable.

“I think the Russian law is terrible and I think our community does too,” Bertram told MPs, “but we, unfortunately, have to comply with legal requests in the country we operate, whether that’s the UK, or whether that’s Russia.” 

According to the company’s latest transparency filings, 104,543,719 videos were removed globally for violating guidelines or terms of service in the first half of 2020. The most common reasons for removal were adult nudity and sexual activities (30.9%), the safety of minors (22.3%), and illegal activities and regulated goods (19.6%).

Earlier, opposition-leaning, Pussy Riot-affiliated, media outlet Mediazona claimed that Russia had forced TikTok to remove videos due to LGBT content, but this was subsequently denied by the company. It is not known why the content was taken down.

“TikTok has indeed removed over 250 videos in Russia at the request of the authorities, but these videos have nothing to do with LGBT people,” a TikTok statement read.

TikTok is highly popular in Russia, where it’s used by 20 million people every month.

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