Business News Digital

TikTok is working super hard on tackling harmful content and data concerns, says TikTok

By | Published on Friday 17 February 2023


With the controversies around what TikTok – and its Chinese parent company Bytedance – do or do not do with the user data they collect gaining new momentum in the US of late, the social media firm has put out a statement about its content and data policies in Europe.

The statement – from TikTok’s General Manager of Operations in Europe, Rich Waterworth – partly provides an update on how the company is complying with new European Union measures that seek to tackle things like abusive and misleading content online.

That includes the updated Code Of Practice On Disinformation signed by all the big digital platforms, and the new Digital Services Act, which regulates those platforms in a number of ways.

After some bragging about the successes of TikTok and some European TikTok creators – “over 150 million people across Europe come to our platform every month”, he declares – Waterworth writes that his company has been investing big time in “our approach to keeping our European community and their data safe and secure, particularly in the context of new regulation”.

“Last week, we submitted our first baseline report in accordance with the strengthened Code Of Practice On Disinformation, providing over 2500 data points on the implementation and enforcement of TikTok’s policies across 30 European countries. We’ve also been expanding our team with additional expertise and making key resources from across the business available to ensure our future compliance with the Digital Services Act”.

“Transparency is a key component of the DSA”, he adds, “and we’ve supported the aims of the regulation from the outset as it mirrors the thinking that guides our quarterly Community Guidelines Enforcement Reports, where we provide insights into the nature of content and accounts removed from our platform”.

“We’ll continue to enhance external visibility of the work we do to protect our community, including by opening our physical European Transparency And Accountability Centre in Dublin next month, where expert audiences will be able to learn more about our work to keep people on TikTok safe”.

As for user data, TikTok needs to comply with the same data regulations as everyone else, of course. But it also has to counter concerns expressed by politicians in multiple countries that the Chinese government has access to that data via Bytedance’s China base. TikTok has repeatedly hit back at those claims, but has yet to really allay any of the concerns.

On data issues, Waterworth continues: “We also remain focused on building trust with our community by demonstrating to them that their data is secure. We’re continuing to deliver against the data governance strategy we set out for Europe last year, which includes further reducing employee access to European user data; minimising data flows outside of Europe; and storing European user data locally”.

“Regarding local data storage, in line with the growth of our community, we’re looking to expand our European data storage capacity”, he says. “We are at an advanced stage of finalising a plan for a second data centre in Ireland with a third party service provider, in addition to the site announced last year”.

“We’re also in talks to establish a third data centre in Europe to further complement our planned operations in Ireland. European TikTok user data will begin migrating this year, continuing into 2024”.

“It’s truly humbling to see how TikTok has become part of the culture and fabric of everyday life for people in Europe”, he concludes. “We’re committed to continuing to accelerate real-world opportunity for our community while striving to set a new standard in safety and security to maintain TikTok as a place that excites and entertains for years to come”.