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.


CNN launches Abu Dhabi academy for journalists

Updated 22 September 2020

CNN launches Abu Dhabi academy for journalists

  • Starting in January 2021, the intensive learning program will offer a fulltime five-week course with a combination of online learning sessions and in-person workshops
  • By the end of the course, students will have learned a wide range of journalism and production skills, and be able to develop a raw story idea into a broadcast-ready short film

DUBAI: The first CNN Academy in the world has opened its doors for applications for journalists of the future to learn about multiplatform storytelling.

Starting in January 2021, the intensive learning program will offer a fulltime five-week course with a combination of online learning sessions and in-person workshops that will take place at CNN at twofour54 in Abu Dhabi.

Over the course of more than 10 years since CNN first began broadcasting from Abu Dhabi, now one of its major international hubs, the network has continually expanded its footprint, multilingual content and programming.

In 2020 and beyond, CNN is building on its commitment to foster the growth of quality journalism through educational and training initiatives designed to equip youth across the region with the latest journalism and broadcasting skills. 

Led by a team of experienced journalists, content creators and production specialists from around the world, academy participants will learn important industry skills including broadcast engineering, field production, interview techniques, and how CNN gathers information, verifies sources and creates content across all platforms. 

Becky Anderson, managing editor of CNN Abu Dhabi and anchor of “Connect the World,” will lead some of the curriculum and take the academy into the broadcaster’s state-of-the-art bureau at twofour54.

Going behind the scenes of the current affairs show “Connect the World with Becky Anderson,” students will gain experience about how the program and its digital content are produced. 

The syllabus will also include insights into CNN Arabic and the local media landscape, along with digital storytelling, mobile journalism, photography and post-production. 

By the end of the course, students will have learned a wide range of journalism and production skills, and be able to develop a raw story idea into a broadcast-ready short film with accompanying digital and social media content. The best work created by students will be featured on CNN’s broadcast channels.

“Some of CNN’s most memorable and important journalism has taken place here in the Middle East, a region which has continued to grow in importance to our network through Abu Dhabi being one of our major global hubs and with the growth of CNN Arabic,” said Rani Raad, president of CNN Commercial Worldwide.

“CNN Academy is our latest commitment to the region as we foster the growth of quality journalism and champion local talent in Abu Dhabi, a place we’ve called home for almost 11 years.” 

Anderson said: “CNN Academy Abu Dhabi marks the latest step in CNN’s continued support of local learning and development and supplements our internship schemes, community work and partnership with the ZHO (Zayed Higher Organization) around People with Determination.”

She added: “With 40 years of newsgathering and over a decade of producing and broadcasting in the Middle East, CNN is able to offer extensive insights into the culture, economics, innovation and global impact that the region has. I’m proud to be involved in encouraging and supporting more upcoming journalists here.” 

The twofour54 training hub, which houses its Creative Lab and Image Nation’s Arab Film Studio, will provide facilities and infrastructure including equipment, learning resources, student liaison and outreach along with the graduation ceremony.

Applications for CNN Academy Abu Dhabi are now open to applicants from the UAE and across the region over the age of 21.

Entry requirements include a one-minute video demonstrating suitability for the course and a written pitch outlining a story idea for the CNN audience. The closing date to apply is Oct. 31.