TikTok pledges more transparency for researchers amid renewed scrutiny

Jul 27, 2022, 3:10 PM | Updated: Feb 13, 2023, 2:47 pm
CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 27: The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office on August...
CULVER CITY, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 27: The TikTok logo is displayed outside a TikTok office on August 27, 2020 in Culver City, California. The Chinese-owned company is reportedly set to announce the sale of U.S. operations of its popular social media app in the coming weeks following threats of a shutdown by the Trump administration. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)
(Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

(CNN) — TikTok on Wednesday said it would share more data with certain researchers to study activity on the platform amid renewed scrutiny of the short-form video app’s impact on society and its ties to Beijing.

Later this year, the company will provide “selected researchers” with access to its API, or application programming interface, TikTok chief operating officer Vanessa Pappas said in a blog post Wednesday. The move is intended to “improve ease of access to public and anonymized data about content and activity on our platform,” Pappas said.

The company is also developing a tool to give researchers an “effective way to evaluate our content moderation systems and examine existing content available on our platform,” Pappas added. Researchers will also soon be able to upload their own posts to see how different types of content are either permitted, rejected or passed to moderators for further evaluation.

Beyond that, TikTok pledged to expand its transparency reports with information about “countering covert influence operations,” according to Pappas. This information will be included in the company’s quarterly Community Guidelines Enforcement Reports.

“We know that just saying ‘trust us’ is not enough,” Pappas said. “That’s why long ago we made an important commitment to transparency, particularly when it comes to how we moderate and recommend content.”

Other social media companies have also recently pledged to bolster transparency for researchers. Facebook-parent Meta said in May that it would share more details with researchers about how political and social ads are targeted to users on the platform.

The latest announcement from TikTok comes amid renewed scrutiny of the platform and its parent company, China-based ByteDance. On Tuesday, Buzzfeed News reported that former TikTok employees claimed the company placed pieces of pro-China content on its now-defunct US news app. ByteDance denied the allegations.

Last month, Buzzfeed News also reported that some US user data has been repeatedly accessed from China. TikTok previously told CNN it has “consistently maintained that our engineers in locations outside of the US, including China, can be granted access to US user data on an as-needed basis.” A TikTok executive testified in a Senate hearing last year that it doesn’t share information with the Chinese government.

The news reports have caught the attention of regulators and lawmakers. Last month, a member of the Federal Communications Commission doubled down on calls for Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores, citing national security concerns and referencing Buzzfeed’s reporting. The FCC, however, plays no role in regulating app stores.

Earlier this month, lawmakers on the Senate Intelligence Committee also called for a Federal Trade Commission probe of TikTok, similarly citing recent reports that TikTok’s Chinese parent company had accessed US users’ data.

TikTok recently announced it now processes all US user data on US-based cloud servers hosted by Oracle.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

National News

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 10: Lindsay Lohan visits "The Drew Barrymore Show" at CBS Broadcast C...
David Goldman

Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul and others charged $400,000 for violating disclosure rules

The SEC charged Lindsay Lohan, Jake Paul and several other celebrities with failing to disclose that they were paid to promote crypto.
1 day ago
FILE - This 2021 photo provided by the St. Louis Zoo shows the zoo's Andean bear named Ben. The St....
Associated Press

Escape-artist Missouri bear heads to Texas zoo with moat

ST. LOUIS (AP) — An escape-artist bear from Missouri is headed to a Texas zoo with a moat in hopes that it will put an end to his wandering. The St. Louis Zoo cited the “specific and unique personality” of the Andean bear named Ben in announcing the move Tuesday. His soon-to-be home at the […]
1 day ago
Helena Zappelli surveys the damage to her yard and vehicle after a large tree fell over, Tuesday, M...
John Antczak, Associated Press

Rare tornado near Los Angeles rips building roofs; 1 injured

A possible tornado Wednesday left a line of damage across roofs of commercial buildings in the Los Angeles suburb of Montebello.
1 day ago
Alec Baldwin Set Shooting...
Associated Press

Workplace-safety sanction finalized in Alec Baldwin shooting

No one is objecting to a settlement agreement to resolve allegations of workplace safety violations in the 2021 shooting death of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin on the set of a Western movie. After a 20-day vetting period with no objections, the agreement between New Mexico workplace safety regulators and Rust Movie Productions has been […]
1 day ago
The Federal Reserve Headquarters are pictured on March 21, 2023 in Washington, DC. The Federal Open...
Christopher Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

Fed raises key rate by quarter-point despite bank turmoil

The Federal Reserve extended its year-long fight against high inflation by raising its key interest rate a quarter-point despite concerns that higher borrowing rates could worsen the turmoil that has gripped the banking system.
1 day ago
(Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources)...
Josh Ellis

Utah man bit by shark while swimming in Hawaii

A 62-year-old Utah man was taken to a Hawaiian hospital after he was bit twice by a shark while swimming off the Big Island.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

Happy diverse college or university students are having fun on their graduation day...
BYU MBA at the Marriott School of Business

How to Choose What MBA Program is Right for You: Take this Quiz Before You Apply!

Wondering what MBA program is right for you? Take this quiz before you apply to see if it will help you meet your goals.
Close up of an offset printing machine during production...
Les Olson IT

Top 7 Reasons to Add a Production Printer to Your Business

Learn about the different digital production printers and how they can help your company save time and money.
vintage photo of lighting showroom featuring chandeliers, lamps, wall lights and mirrors...
Lighting Design

History of Lighting Design | Over 25 Years of Providing Utah With the Latest Trends and Styles

Read about the history of Lighting Design, a family-owned and operated business that paved the way for the lighting industry in Utah.
Fiber Optical cables connected to an optic ports and Network cables connected to ethernet ports...
Brian Huston, CE and Anthony Perkins, BICSI

Why Every Business Needs a Structured Cabling System

A structured cabling system benefits businesses by giving you faster processing speeds and making your network more efficient and reliable.
notebook with password notes highlighted...
PC Laptops

How to Create Strong Passwords You Can Actually Remember

Learn how you can create strong passwords that are actually easy to remember! In a short time you can create new ones in seconds.
house with for rent sign posted...
Chase Harrington, president and COO of Entrata

Top 5 Reasons You May Want to Consider Apartment Life Over Owning a Home

There are many benefits of renting that can be overshadowed by the allure of buying a home. Here are five reasons why renting might be right for you.
TikTok pledges more transparency for researchers amid renewed scrutiny