In an effort to secure its foothold in the U.S. market, TikTok has offered to allow U.S. officials access to algorithmic oversight as state after state bans the app.
- After two years of negotiations, TikTok has a new solution to easing U.S. security concerns—allowing U.S. oversight of the app’s algorithm.
- The popular video-sharing app has proposed a $1.5 billion plan to reorganize its operations within the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports.
- Discussion between the Chinese-based company and the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment has been fairly tight-lipped, but TikTok is under increasing pressure as a growing number of politicians call for the app to be banned.
- Driven by concerns about TikTok’s lack of security, more than 20 states have banned the app on government devices.
Why it’s news
Many states and now many universities are banning the social-media app. And the U.S. House of Representatives has banned TikTok on its government-issued devices. A total ban in the U.S. would be devastating to the social-media platform, as more than two-thirds of America’s youth are regular users.
In addition to security concerns, critics of TikTok have accused the company of altering the algorithm to show entertainment and propaganda videos outside of China rather than educational videos. TikTok has denied these accusations.
By allowing U.S. oversight of the algorithm, TikTok hopes that it can calm some of the fears surrounding the app. The restructuring of the company’s U.S. division could create some distance between TikTok and its parent company ByteDance, which has ties to Chinese state media.
Previous discussions between TikTok and government officials have suggested that Texas-based company Oracle could monitor the app. If TikTok is unable to reach an agreement with U.S. officials, the government could force ByteDance to leave the U.S. market or sell portions of the company.
Even if TikTok comes to an agreement with lawmakers, it will likely need approval from Beijing before implementing any changes to the algorithms.
Backing up a bit
Security concerns surrounding TikTok have increased discussion about banning the app in the U.S.—something the country has never done before. The Chinese-owned social media app has been under scrutiny as more security concerns come to light.
While there are no reports that the U.S. has ever before banned an app, other countries have taken this step—India banned TikTok along with WeChat and several others in 2020 citing security concerns. Several states in the U.S. have banned the app on government devices.
Countries blocking social media sites altogether is also nothing new. China and Iran have blocked both Facebook and Twitter in their countries since 2009. However, in the U.S. officials must consider whether or not the government—and what particular entity—has the authority to block the social media app.
Even if the government does not block the app, companies like Apple and Google have banned apps in the past.