TikTok to make code public as it pushes back against ‘misinformation’
Newly appointed TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer announced Wednesday that TikTok’s code will be made available for experts to study, as the company pushed back strongly against “rumors and misinformation” around its data security practices and ties to the Chinese government.
“We believe our entire industry should be held to an exceptionally high standard,” Mayer, a former Disney executive who took over as CEO in May, wrote in a blog post. “That’s why we believe all companies should disclose their algorithms, moderation policies, and data flows to regulators.”
He announced that TikTok “will not wait for regulation to come, but instead TikTok has taken the first step by launching a Transparency and Accountability Center for moderation and data practices. Experts can observe our moderation policies in real-time, as well as examine the actual code that drives our algorithms. This puts us a step ahead of the industry, and we encourage others to follow suit.”
The move comes amid increasing concerns on Capitol Hill and in the Trump administration that the company, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, may be a national security threat due to its ties to China, where companies are subject to a national intelligence law that requires them to disclose sensitive data.
The House recently approved legislation to ban TikTok from government devices, while Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said earlier this month that the Trump administration is considering banning TikTok and other Chinese apps entirely due to security concerns.
The company pushed back strongly on Wednesday and pointed to concerns that fairness and competition in the marketplace could be limited if TikTok is eliminated, particularly as Facebook prepares to roll out “Reels,” a similar video creation app.