Negotiations between the White House and TikTok officials continue as the Biden administration attempts to reach a deal before midterm elections.
- A deal with TikTok’s parent company ByteDance is reportedly close, though difficulties remain in the way as some members of Congress say they will oppose any deal that isn’t tough enough on the social media company.
- Concerns about national security have spurred the negotiations which have been ongoing for over a year.
- The Biden administration has promised to negotiate a plan that will protect private information of Americans using the app.
Why it’s news
Rumors of a preliminary agreement between the Biden administration and TikTok have been circulating for the last week. If a tentative agreement is in place, it may resolve U.S. security concerns about the social-media app.
Though they are still working out the details, the solution would involve TikTok updating its security practices but does not require parent company ByteDance to sell TikTok, according to The New York Times.
The deal involves three main changes…
- requiring U.S. data to be stored on servers operated by Texas company Oracle
- monitoring of TikTok algorithms through Oracle
- creating a board of security experts to monitor server operations.
Concerns from some U.S. officials involved in negotiations mean that the deal is yet to be finalized.
Though the deal seems to be a step closer to resolving security concerns, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco and the Treasury Department, lead U.S. negotiators, are worried that the deal isn’t harsh enough on China.
The deal has not yet been presented to the Chinese government.
Backing up a bit
TikTok’s close ties to the Chinese government has long been a security concern for Americans. In 2019, then President Donald Trump attempted to ban TikTok unless it was placed under American supervision.
In June of this year, a BuzzFeed news report claimed that U.S. user data was repeatedly being accessed in China.
A Forbes report from late last month revealed that hundreds of TikTok and ByteDance employees had current and former ties to Chinese state media.
Of the profiles Forbes reviewed, 23 were managing “content partnerships, public affairs, corporate social responsibility, and media cooperation.”
Fifteen of the profiles indicate that the employees are also currently employed by Chinese state media groups, several of which are identified by the State Department as extensions of the Chinese government.
TikTok has attempted to alleviate American concerns by hiring U.S. based executives, however several of these employees have left the company, saying that they had no real authority.
Aside from security concerns, a recent trend shows that more young people use TikTok as a search engine rather than traditional methods like Google. Considering the amount of misinformation on the app, this trend is concerning.
An investigation from reliability rating platform NewsGuard found that TikTok users who search for information about prominent news topics will often find false or misleading information rather than helpful resources.
The video sharing platform features videos about trending topics, however the investigation revealed that approximately 20% of search results contained inaccurate information.
Following the NewsGuard reports, TikTok responded to the accusations of allowing misinformation by announcing that it will begin testing new policies for political accounts on the video sharing social media platform.
The new policies include mandatory verification of official accounts and prohibiting monetization or campaign funding.
“By prohibiting campaign fundraising and limiting access to our monetization features and verifying accounts, we’re aiming to strike a balance between enabling people to discuss the issues that are relevant to their lives while also protecting the creative, entertaining platform that our community wants,” says President of Global Business Solutions Blake Chandlee in a statement.