TikTok launches new information center to counter criticism and accusations

Photo (c) Anatoliy Sizov - Getty Images

The company swears that U.S. users’ data is not being sent to China

TikTok has gone on the offensive to set the record straight about what it is, who owns it, and more.

With rumors running rampant both on Capitol Hill and in the press, the social media app is taking accusations about things like data tracking and its ties to China head on by launching a new information center to call out anything that the company considers off-base or altogether wrong.

“Let us set the record straight. TikTok is not available in China,” the company vowed. “[TikTok’s] US user data is stored in Virginia with a back-up in Singapore and strict controls on employee access. TikTok has never provided any US user data to the Chinese government, nor would it do so if asked. Any insinuation to the contrary is unfounded and blatantly false.” 

“TikTok has become the latest target, but we are not the enemy. The bigger move is to use this moment to drive deeper conversations around algorithms, transparency, and content moderation, and to develop stricter rules of the road. We are taking the first step of many to address these concerns, and call on the industry to follow our lead for the benefit of users and creators everywhere,” added CEO Kevin Mayer.

Fighting Trump’s Executive Order

Taking China out of the discussion would be a nice start, but the app developer is also having to wrestle with President Trump’s executive order threatening that the company would be banned in the U.S. if it isn’t sold by the Chinese companies that own it.

In response, the company is challenging the White House’s threat by saying that the Trump administration is overstepping the “rule of law.” More importantly, it wants its 2+ billion users to know that this matter will be a fight to the finish.

“This Executive Order ... sets a dangerous precedent for the concept of free expression and open markets. We will pursue all remedies available to us in order to ensure that the rule of law is not discarded and that our company and our users are treated fairly – if not by the Administration, then by the US courts.”

Misinformation and election interference

Having seen Facebook fall in an election interference mud puddle in 2016, TikTok seems determined to steer clear of that gaffe. To bolster its effort, the company is installing three new measures to combat misinformation and any other content that may be rigged to disrupt the 2020 election. These include:

  1. An update on policies regarding misleading content to provide better clarity on what is and isn't allowed on TikTok. 

  1. Broadening its fact-checking partnerships to help verify election-related misinformation, and adding an in-app reporting option for election misinformation.

  1. Partnering with experts from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to protect against foreign influence on its platform.

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