Everyone loves a good story. And we’ve got one on TikTok!
It’s been all over the news lately, and it looks like the stakes are getting higher by the day. Basically, more and more US states are moving to ban the app on government-owned devices, and politicians are accusing the app of being used to spy on US journalists.
So, TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, is reportedly willing to make some big concessions in order to avoid a ban in the US.
Who Is TikTok Working With?
ByteDance has been working with the Committee for Foreign Investment in the US (CFIUS) for a while now, trying to establish a deal that would allow TikTok to keep operating in the US. The talks have primarily been focused on data storage and limiting access to US user data by China-based ByteDance employees.
The plan was for TikTok to partner with Oracle on a local storage center for US users.
But, recently, more concerns have come up about how TikTok’s algorithm functions, and how it could be used to manipulate users in the app.
In an effort to avoid a ban in the US, ByteDance is now proposing a new aspect of the deal that includes a restructuring of their US operations and the implementation of new transparency measures for their algorithms. This would allow for increased oversight and even control from American authorities, reports Social Media Today.
This isn’t the first time that TikTok has proposed more algorithmic transparency. Back in 2020, they announced plans to open a new transparency center in LA as part of their ongoing effort to distance themselves from concerns around potential Chinese Government interference.
This is now part of the negotiations underway, with the idea being that by providing more insight into their operations, they can reassure US officials as to what’s happening in the app, what’s being amplified and/or demoted, and whether external voices have influenced such.
Is Everything A Go?
Hold up, there’s a catch. In the new proposed arrangement, according to some insiders, third-party monitors would check the code for the video-recommendation algorithms to detect whether it has been manipulated or if the Chinese government or other foreign actors have had access.
Provisions in the proposal stipulate that if the US government or the third-party monitors see anything that concerns them, there would be a process to flag the issues to TikTok, and ultimately to the US government if necessary.
This could be a concerning development, as it would effectively enable US officials to also have some input into TikTok’s algorithmic process, and to potentially influence what the app shows, or doesn’t show users, based on their assessment.
What Does This Mean For Users?
Well, it’s hard to say for sure.
But, it looks like ByteDance is willing to do whatever it takes to keep the app running in the US, even if it means making some big changes and concessions.
Whether or not that will be enough to appease US officials and avoid a ban, only time will tell.