China-Owned TikTok Hires American Professors for ‘Content Council’

TikTok, video sharing app that has become wildly popular with teens, paid a record fine in the United States for illegally collecting personal information from children
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China-owned social media platform TikTok has recruited American professors to serve on its “content advisory council” to calm concerns that it engages in censorship at the behest of the Chinese government.

According to a report by Campus Reform, China-owned social media platform TikTok has hired American professors to serve on its “content advisory council.” Some believe that the company is hiring American professors to calm concerns about its relationship to China’s communist government.

In the fall, Senators Tom Cotton and Chuck Schumer encouraged national intelligence agencies to investigate whether or not TikTok posed a national security risk. At the time, Schumer argued that TikTok may be compromised by its relationship with China’s Communist Party.

In a statement posted to the TikTok website, the company announced that it has formed the council to develop content moderation policies that will help TikTok sustain its growth.

Mindful of our responsibility to our users, last year we shared our intention to form an external council of leading experts to advise TikTok on content moderation policies covering a wide range of topics. We’ve made great progress as a company since we took the first steps of partnering with global law firm K&L Gates LLP and their team, including former Congressmen Bart Gordon and Jeff Denham. Earlier this year we updated our Community Guidelines to provide clarity to our users, and last week we announced our Transparency Center that will provide content and coding insight to outside experts.

TikTok’s “content advisory council” will be chaired by George Washington Univesity Law School Professor Dawn Nunziato. In a statement, Nunziato argued that TikTok’s willingness to work with internet law experts suggests that the company is focused on providing healthy and open discourse on its platform.

“A company willing to open its doors to outside experts to help shape upcoming policy shows organizational maturity and humility,” Nunziato said. “I am working with TikTok because they’ve shown that they take content moderation seriously, are open to feedback, and understand the importance of this area both for their community and for the future of healthy public discourse.”

Tiktok moderation documents leaked to the Intercept show the company instructed moderations to “suppress posts created by users that were deemed too ugly, poor, or disabled for the platform, internal documents reveal. The same document also allegedly shows moderators being instructed to censor political speech and punish those who harmed ‘national honor.'”


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