Bytedance may separate TikTok from its Chinese operations


TikTok and its parent company Bytedance have been responding to the growing controversy in the US surrounding the social app’s content-moderation and data-privacy policies.

Reuters reported yesterday that Bytedance has “stepped up efforts to separate its social media app TikTok from much of its Chinese operations”. This is in response to a potential investigation by the US’ Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) into Bytedance’s acquisition of social app Musical·ly in 2017, and its subsequent merger with TikTok.

“ByteDance started to separate TikTok operationally before CFIUS approached it in October, because it wanted some of its staff to focus on TikTok,” claimed the report. “It completed the separation of TikTok’s product and business development, marketing and legal teams from those of its Chinese social media app Douyin in the third quarter of this year.”

The report came as TikTok US’ head of safety, Eric Han, published an official response to allegations that an American TikTok user had her account suspended after posting a video criticising the Chinese government. The post was part explanation and part apology: for banning the user’s account for previously using an image of Osama bin Laden in a video (even though “we recognise that this video may have been intended as satire”) and for a “human moderation error” that took the China-criticism video offline for 50 minutes before it was reinstated. TikTok says it is conducting reviews of its processes.

Stuart Dredge

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