Jul 9, 2020 - Technology

TikTok reveals content moderation stats amid growing global pressure

Photo of ByteDance name and logo on its Beijing headquarters

Sign on Beijing headquarters of TikTok parent company ByteDance. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

TikTok offered a detailed look at its removal of videos around the globe Thursday as the popular video-sharing app faces pressure in the U.S. and abroad over its ties to China.

The big picture: The Trump administration says it's considering a U.S. ban on TikTok, which is Chinese-owned. India last month banned the app along with more than 50 other Chinese mobile apps.

Driving the news: TikTok removed more than 49 million videos globally for violating its policies between July 2019 and December 2019, according to a transparency report released Thursday. That's less than 1 percent of the videos TikTok users uploaded during that time, according to the company.

  • TikTok removed the most videos in India — more than 16 million.
  • The U.S. came in second, with nearly 4.6 million.

India and the U.S. also topped TikTok's list for total government requests for information.

  • The company said it produced data in response to 90% of the 302 requests it received in India and 82% of the 100 requests in the U.S.
  • TikTok said it also received 45 requests from government agencies in 10 countries to remove or restrict content, with India accounting for 30 of those requests.

Between the lines: China isn't mentioned in the report. TikTok isn't available in the country, and the company notes that it didn't receive any requests from governments other than those identified in the report.

  • However, a similar, separate app offered by TikTok's parent company is popular in China and has to abide by the country's strict censorship rules.

By the numbers: TikTok is also sharing more details on why videos were removed, after rolling out a content moderation tool at the end of last year that enables it to provide a breakdown of the policy category violations for videos removed in December.

  • 25.5% of the removed videos violated policies related to adult nudity and sexual activities.
  • 24.8% violated minor safety policies such as showing dangerous or illegal behavior by minors (think drug or alcohol use) and more serious infractions that could lead to reports to law enforcement and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
  • Less than 1% violated policies on hate speech, disinformation or inauthentic content, and dangerous individuals and organizations.
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