Mar 11, 2020 - Technology

TikTok plans Los Angeles "transparency center" to assuage critics

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

TikTok said Tuesday that it plans to open a "transparency center" in Los Angeles where experts can observe the Chinese-owned platform's moderation processes.

Why it matters: Critics have worried over the degree to which China might influence TikTok's content policies and practices, now or in the future.

Details: While the move is clearly aimed at providing insight into the company's operations, TikTok is expected to be selective about who it lets in the door.

  • Also, the center, part of the company's Culver City offices, won't necessarily be where TikTok's content review decisions are made, but rather provide a window onto them for outsiders.

The big picture: Opening the center is just the first phase of the company's effort to be more transparent, TikTok said."Later, we will expand the Center to include insight into our source code, and our efforts around data privacy and security," the company said in a statement.

  • This second phase, TikTok said, will be led by Roland Cloutier, who starts next month as the company's chief information security officer.

Go deeper: Report details TikTok security vulnerabilities in 2019

Go deeper

GOP senators introduce bill to ban TikTok on government devices

Photo illustration: Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Republican Sens. Josh Hawley and Rick Scott are introducing legislation to bar federal employees from using TikTok on government devices, citing national security concerns.

The big picture: Chinese tech companies like TikTok parent ByteDance are drawing rising scrutiny from policymakers who argue that Beijing can tap them to harvest vast amounts of data from Americans.

TikTok forms outside group to help shape content moderation policies

Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images.

TikTok on Wednesday unveiled a group of outside advisers with expertise in child safety, hate speech, misinformation and other areas that will help guide its content moderation policies.

The big picture: Online platforms are facing intense scrutiny from lawmakers and even the Justice Department over how they decide what their users can and can't say and do.

Report urges alternative to tampering with tech's liability shield

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A new report out Tuesday from a non-profit focused on online free expression is calling on federal lawmakers to mandate more transparency from tech companies rather than weakening the industry's liability shield.

Why it matters: Internet platforms could embrace policies like transparency requirements as a far more palatable alternative to eroding their immunity from lawsuits over user-posted content, which they say is vital to their existence.