With the profile indications now poised to be applied in 40 markets to any media sources that TikTok assesses as being influenced by their local government, the company has just announced an expansion of its state-affiliated media labels.
According to TikTok: “Last year, we started a pilot program in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus to overlay labels on content from state-controlled media. According to our state-affiliated media policy, we must identify accounts managed by organizations whose editorial output or decision-making is susceptible to government control or influence. When consumers interact with news from media accounts that can present a government’s stance, we want to make sure they receive accurate, clear, and actionable context.”
Everything makes sense, and indeed, giving TikTok users a little more transparency can only be good for them. But the timing of this change appears noteworthy considering TikTok’s ties to the Chinese government and the persistent rumors that the platform is being used to spy on foreign citizens.
Security experts are urging the White House to take action and limit TikTok’s access as the US Government is now evaluating whether it should outright ban the app.
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The fact that employees of TikTok’s parent company ByteDance were recently discovered to be snooping on several American journalists by using their TikTok profiles to identify where they had been and who they had been in contact with — i.e., the very thing that TikTok has repeatedly vowed that it does not, and will not do — hasn’t helped the platform’s case.
As requests for the complete removal of the app rise, government-affiliated groups across the US continue to block TikTok on their devices. The company has acknowledged that its ongoing conversations with US officials have suffered as a result.
TikTok might or might not be regarded as “state-affiliated media.” The Chinese government can technically seek information from any Chinese app, so it’s fascinating to see TikTok running a deflection by announcing that it will now more accurately designate stuff that is affiliated with the Chinese government in the app.
Image Credit: TikTok