TikTok steps up transparency efforts after privacy concerns in United States

Several US agencies that deal with national security and intelligence issues have banned employees from using the app. (Reuters)
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Updated 11 March 2020

TikTok steps up transparency efforts after privacy concerns in United States

  • Several US agencies that deal with national security and intelligence issues have banned employees from using the app

Social media app TikTok is launching a content moderation center in a bid to boost transparency, the Chinese company said on Wednesday, as it faces scrutiny from US lawmakers who have accused it of sharing user data with the Chinese government.
The “Transparency Center” is to be opened at TikTok’s Los Angeles office where external experts will oversee its operations, the company said in its blog.
The center would later provide insights into the app’s source code, the closely guarded internal instructions of the software, and offer more details on privacy and security.
Several US agencies that deal with national security and intelligence issues have banned employees from using the app, whose popularity among teenagers has been growing rapidly.
According to a 2017 Chinese law, companies operating in the country are required to cooperate with the government on national intelligence.
The US Navy banned the app in December from its government issued mobile devices, calling it a “cybersecurity threat.” Later that month, TikTok published its first transparency report on the “volume and nature” of governmental requests for its users’ account information.
Republican Senator Josh Hawley called for a blanket ban on the app for all federal employees last week, representing a broader concern among lawmakers about collection and sharing of data on US users with the Chinese government.
The company has however refuted claims and has said that US user data is stored in the United States and that China does not have jurisdiction over content that is not in China.
TikTok, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, allows users to create and share short videos with special effects, and is hugely popular in Southeast Asia, including India.


Twitter, TikTok discuss potential combination, reports WSJ

Updated 11 min 45 sec ago

Twitter, TikTok discuss potential combination, reports WSJ

  • Trump declared Thursday that TikTok and WeChat threaten the national security the United States

NEW YORK: Twitter is in preliminary discussions for a possible combination with TikTok, the Wall Street Journal reported on Saturday, after US President Donald Trump said he would ban the app, calling it a threat to national security.

Trump declared Thursday that the popular Chinese video app TikTok and social network WeChat “threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

In an executive order, Trump gave Americans 45 days to stop doing business with the platforms, effectively setting a deadline for a sale of TikTok by its Chinese parent firm ByteDance.

He has also demanded that a significant portion of the sale go to the US Treasury.

Microsoft has been the primary suitor for TikTok, saying it was in talks to buy the company’s US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand operations.

The Financial Times reported Thursday that Microsoft has expanded negotiations and was now after the app’s entire global operations.

As a smaller company, Twitter would have a long-shot bid for TikTok, but the social media platform believes it would come under less antitrust scrutiny than larger corporations such as Microsoft, the WSJ said, citing people familiar with the talks.

Twitter, however, would likely need the support of other investors to complete the combination.

While Twitter does allow for the sharing of videos, most posts contain short text messages and photos or GIFs.

In 2012 Twitter acquired the platform Vine, which allowed users to share short videos, but shut down the service in 2016.