While short-form social media platfrom TikTok only launched in 2018, the app has faced quite a bit of newsworthy backlash. Most recently it’s been reported that over half of U.S. states have banned the app on government-owned devices, mainly citing security risk.
TikTok is owned by Chinese-based ByteDance, which is an automatic red flag for government agencies. On top of that, it was recently discovered that scammers were using the site to deliver malware to unsuspecting users. At last, TikTok has announced their plan of action possible get in good graces, once and for all.
United States government regulators have 2 major concerns when it comes to TikTok. The first concern is that Chinese-based ByteDance could use data collected from the app to spy on users who share personal information during account sign up, or interacting on the platform.
The second concern, among many, is that they believe TikTok’s carefully curated (and scary accurate) algorithm could be used to manipulate users, especially involving hot topics like American politics. It’s estimated that aorund 33% of users get their news from TikTok.
Representative Mike Gallagher reported to the Wall Street Journal that he fears Chinese officials could produce videos that feature propaganda. He’s not pulling concern from thin air, either. In 2020, TikTok execs from the U.S. discovered that Chinese employees had tweaked the algorithm to muffle videos regarding the U.S. presidential election.
TikTok’s plan of action is one that calls in business partner Oracle to review the algorithm in hopes to appease officials. These third-party monitors will inspect the algorithm for any manipulations in how content is shown. From there, anything that raises concern would be brought to TikTok leadership and then potentially to the United States government.
TikTok plans to move expeditiously, but ultimately the Chinese government will likely have to approve any plan to monitor information within its algorithm.
If you’re wondering why a government-issued device would need access to the app in the first place, let us remind you that 33% of TikTok users gather their news from the app. While you’ll find your fair share of hilarious viral videos and teenagers dancing to the latest remix from yesteryear, you’ll also find up-to-the-minute reports on topics that Americans are deeply interested in.
TikTok has over 1 billion users and is steadily climbing its way to join the ranks of Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. With this in mind, it’s no wonder TikTok execs say they are wiling to go the extra mile to cool the criticism.