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From banning to regulating TikTok: Addressing concerns of national security, privacy, and online harms

Authors:
  • Oxford Global Society

Abstract

In this policy research report, Dr Jufang Wang assesses the threatened banning of the Chinese-owned viral video-sharing platformTikTok in the US and other countries on ‘national security’ grounds. She argues that, if TikTok is indeed banned, this will not only undermine much-needed competition within the tech industry, but lead to a more fractured Internet and a more authoritarian Internet governance model. This ‘splinternet’ effect would violate the free speech rights of TikTok’s hundreds of millions of users, and harm the interest of consumers and businesses around the world. Instead, she argues that regulatory pressure is much more productive than an outright ban, since this approach reinforces a more stable, rule-based operating environment for all online media platforms, regardless of their national origins. Existing regulations have already seen improvements in TikTok's data protection and content moderation policies, in the form of increased transparency and greater independence from China’s content censorship policy.
in association with the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies
and Wolfson College, University of Oxford
From Banning to
Regulating TikTok:
Addressing concerns of
national security, privacy,
and online harms
Dr Jufang Wang
Policy Brief
www.fljs.or
g
www.fljs.org
The Foundation for Law Justice and Society
© The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society 2020
The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society
TikTok, the viral video-sharing platform owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, is
under threat of being banned in the US and several other countries on ‘national
security’ grounds (India has already banned TikTok). Meanwhile, the platform has been
under regulatory scrutiny in some countries over issues including data privacy and
‘immoral’ content.
While China has blocked most overseas social media platforms through its ‘Great
Firewall’, democratic countries’ banning of TikTok will lead to a more fractured Internet
and a more authoritarian Internet governance model, under which national
governments can simply ban any global media platforms citing vague ‘national security’
reasons. This ‘splinternet’ effect is against the interest of consumers and businesses
around the world.
As the first non-US social media platform that has gained global popularity, TikTok’s fate
has significant implications for the wider tech industry. The exclusion of TikTok, which
has become a competitor to the US-based social media giants like Facebook and
YouTube, will undermine the much-needed competition within the industry. Banning
TikTok will not be good for technology innovation.
TikTok has become one of the world’s most vibrant online communities, providing
channels for many people, including under-privileged groups and independent
musicians and artists to express themselves and/or to make a living. Banning TikTok is
seen by many as a violation of the free speech rights of TikTok’s hundreds of millions of
users. This point has been largely overlooked by Western mainstream media.
Regulatory pressure on TikTok is a much more desirable way to bring about a safer
online environment than outright banning of a popular social media platform. A
regulatory approach can provide a more stable, rule-based operating environment for
all online media platforms, regardless of their national origins. Indeed, regulation has
brought about some positive changes regarding TikTok's data protection and content
moderation policies, such as increasing its transparency around user data and
distancing itself from China’s content censorship policy.
Executive Summary
FROM BANNING TO REGULATING TIKTOK . 1
2 . FROM BANNING TO REGULATING TIKTOK
Introduction
TikTok, the viral video-sharing platform owned by
the Chinese company ByteDance, is facing an
uncertain future under the threat of being banned in
the United States. The Trump administration has
cited ‘national security’ threats to target the platform,
accusing it of sharing American user data with the
Chinese Communist Party (CCP), spreading
disinformation that benefits the CCP, and censoring
content that displeases Beijing.
Meanwhile, politicians and lawmakers in several
other countries including Australia, Japan, and the
UK have also voiced concerns about TikTok’s Chinese
origin and raised the possibility of a future ban
(Australia ruled out a possible ban after a security
review on TikTok this August).
In addition, India banned TikTok among dozens of
Chinese apps amid border conflicts with China in
June. TikTok is also under regulatory scrutiny in a
number of countries for issues including data privacy
and hosting ‘immoral content. In October, Pakistan
temporarily banned the platform for immoral videos.
While China has blocked many overseas social media
platforms like Facebook and Twitter through its so-
called “Great Firewall”, it is a rare and unexpected
action for democracies to ban or threaten to ban a
globally popular platform. This new development
raises serious questions about the future of the
Internet: Is an open Internet still a goal pursued by
the Western democracies? Given that TikTok is the
first non-US social media platform that has achieved
global popularity, is banning the platform
detrimental to the much-needed competition within
the social media market that has been dominated by
a few US companies like Facebook and Google?
Additionally, is banning TikTok a violation of the
freedom of speech of its hundreds of millions of
users?
This policy brief report analyses the implications of
two different approaches in addressing the concerns
over TikTok: an outright ban and regulatory
measures. It argues that, while Western democracies
may have legitimate concerns towards TikTok,
resorting to regulatory measures, rather than a ban,
to address them has obvious benefits. Such benefits
include maintaining a more open Internet, fostering
competition and innovation in the technology
sector, and honouring TikTok users’ freedom of
speech and their rights of monetization through
content creation. This policy brief will first discuss the
negative implications of banning TikTok, before
examining the existing or potential regulatory
measures relating to concerns over TikTok, including
data security, privacy, disinformation, content
censorship, and online harms. Given that not all
these concerns are particular to TikTok, the
regulatory measures discussed are largely applicable
to other global platforms
The wider impact of banning TikTok
For Western democracies, while banning TikTok may
solve their ‘national security’ concerns over the
platform, it is only a short-sighted solution to long-term
issues such as data security, privacy and disinformation.
Also, such an approach could have a profound impact
on the future of an open Internet, technology
innovation, and TikTok users’ freedom of speech.
From Banning to Regulating TikTok:
Addressing concerns of national security,
privacy, and online harms
FROM BANNING TO REGULATING TIKTOK . 3
Leading to a ‘splinternet’
A possible TikTok ban in the US and other
democracies may lead to a more fractured online
world. Here, the logic is that if the US can ban TikTok
on ‘national security’ grounds without providing
evidence, then other countries may also cite this
reason to ban any social media platforms or any tech
companies. This is why even TikTok’s competitor
Facebook has voiced concerns over the long-time
implications of a TikTok ban for all social media
platforms.1 An article from Harvard Business Review
even warned that the TikTok ban ‘should worry every
company’, as there has been an increase in the cases
of countries banning products or services over
alleged cybersecurity concerns.2
Banning TikTok over national security concerns is
also reminiscent of the authoritarian Internet
governance model. Countries like China and Russia
have advocated the so-called ‘Internet sovereignty’
policy, which allows national governments to exert
more control over the Internet within their borders,
as an alternative to the West’s ‘Internet freedom’
agenda.3 In recent years, this ‘Internet sovereignty’
idea has gained some momentum. For example, in
Turkey, a new law requires social media platforms to
appoint a local representative in the country, to store
user data of Turkish citizens within the country, and
to obey local court orders to remove offensive
content within 48 hours; otherwise, they will face a
heavy fine and a de facto ban (90 per cent of
offenders' bandwidth is blocked).4 If Western
democracies join such efforts by banning a globally
popular social media platform, Internet governance
around the world will move further towards an
authoritarian model.
It is worth noting that threatening to ban TikTok is
only part of the Trump administration’s sweeping
‘Clean Network’ programme, which aims to cut out
almost all technological links between US and China
(covering telecommunication carriers, apps, cloud
services, mobile stores, and undersea cables).5 The
United States has been pressuring other countries to
join this programme. If this ‘Clean Network
programme is fully implemented, a digital wall will
rise along the ideological divide. Such a ‘splinternet’
will bring substantial disruption and hazards to our
world. For example, users of Huawei phones around
the world have already felt the disruption caused by
the US sanction on Huawei, as they are now unable
to use the basic services from Google such as Google
Maps.
Inhibiting competition and innovation
TikTok is an innovative social video-sharing platform,
which has popularized a new form of online content
around the world: 15 to 60 seconds short-form
videos with soundtracks (usually popular music).
While the platform is most famous for its fun and
creative videos, it is becoming one of the most
popular social media platforms for political
expression (such as the Black Lives Matter
movement and US presidential election) and
expanding its user base from young users to a wider
demographics.6
TikTok has become a serious competitor to American
social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and
YouTube. Before TikTok, non-US social media
platforms like WeChat (China), Line (Japan),
VKontakte (Russia), and Kaokao Talk (South Korean)
have not achieved global popularity, although they
are very successful at home and in some overseas
countries. In this sense, the success of TikTok in
global expansion is exceptional. Since 2018, TikTok
has witnessed a meteoric rise: it has been
downloaded over 2 billion times globally and was
the most downloaded app across the App Store and
Google Play in the first quarter of 2020.7
Banning TikTok will further solidify the dominance
and monopoly of American social media platforms
globally. Through acquisitions and mergers, the
Facebook company already owns four top social
media platforms including Facebook, Instagram,
WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.8 Google not
only dominates the online search market, it also
owns YouTube, the world’s largest video-sharing
platform. This situation has caused concerns even
within the US. Facebook’s CEO Mark Zuckerberg and
Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai, together with CEOs
from Apple and Amazon, testified at the US House of
Representatives' antitrust subcommittee in late July
2020.9 The dominance of a few American social media
platforms in the world has made it difficult for new
entrants to attract users, partly due to the ‘network
effects’ witnessed in social media markets. In the
meantime, tech start-ups around the world may lose
the inspiration from the success story of TikTok.
Violating freedom of speech
It may not be obvious that banning TikTok will
violate the freedom of speech of TikTok users, given
that there are alternative platforms for them to
express themselves. This might be true for celebrities
and famous brands. However, for unknown content
creators, especially many underprivileged social
groups, TikTok is a unique and important platform
for them to be discovered and heard. As three TikTok
content creators, who filed a lawsuit requesting an
American court to block the Trump administration’s
TikTok ban, pointed out in their court document, in
contrast with other social media platforms, TikTok’s
algorithm allows ‘little-known creators to show their
content to a large audience’.10 This is an important
point that has been largely overlooked by Western
mainstream media.
TikTok’s AI-powered algorithm, which recommends
personalized content based on users’ interest, has
been dubbed the ‘secret sauce’ of its success.11 The
algorithms of most major social media platforms like
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter mainly prioritize
content posted by users’ friends and/or subscribed
accounts.12 However, according to TikTok, ‘neither
follower count nor whether the account has had
previous high-performing videos are direct factors in
the recommendation system.13 In other words,
content creators without a large number of followers
on TikTok can reach a massive audience as long as
their content is enjoyed by others. This explains why
on TikTok, most popular users are not necessarily
celebrities, but people previously unknown.
For the above reason, TikTok’s algorithm has created
a more equal online space for its users than most
popular platforms. As a result, when TikTok was
banned in India, the most affected groups were
those disadvantaged people, including rural
housewives and the unemployed who relied on the
platform to express themselves and earn extra
income.14 This situation also applies to independent
musicians, artists, and comedians, who have flocked
to TikTok in hope of gaining an audience and making
a living.15 Banning TikTok will be a violation of their
freedom of speech and rights to monetise their
content.
Addressing concerns through regulatory
measures
Compared to banning TikTok, regulatory schemes
provide a long-term and rule-based approach to
address concerns around social media platforms. In
recent years, some countries or regions, especially
the EU, have stepped up their efforts in regulating
platforms in areas including data protection and
tackling online harms. Here, regulatory measures
refer to laws, regulations, public-private agreements,
and self-regulatory framework initiated by states or
inter-governmental bodies (e.g., Code of Practice on
Disinformation in the EU).
Data security and privacy
The main ‘national security’ concern regarding TikTok
expressed by the Trump administration is that the
platform may share user data of American users with
the Chinese government. However, even the CIA has
concluded that there is ‘no evidence’ showing that
TikTok has done so.16 TikTok has repeatedly denied
such accusations and emphasized that its user data
are stored in the United States, with a backup in
Singapore, and therefore are not subjected to
Chinese laws.
It is not uncommon for national governments to
harbour concerns over their citizens’ data being
controlled by foreign companies. China itself
required Apple to store iCloud data of mainland
China users within the country in 2018, which is why
Apple iCloud service in China is operated by GCBD,
an iCloud service in Guizhou, China. According to
GCBD’s terms of service, both Apple and the
company have the right to access all user data of
Chinese mainland users, and GCBD may disclose user
data to Chinese law enforcement authorities,
government officials, and/or a relevant third party
4 . FROM BANNING TO REGULATING TIKTOK
FROM BANNING TO REGULATING TIKTOK . 5
when it believes ‘reasonably appropriate’.17 The
proposed TikTok-Oracle-Walmart deal offered a
similar solution: Oracle would become TikTok’s
‘trusted technology provider’, with TikTok’s user data
of American users being stored in Oracle iCloud and
managed by Oracle.
For many Western countries, such an arrangement to
ensure data security may not be necessary. In the EU,
the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that
came into effect in 2018 provides a framework for
personal data protection and cross-border data
transfer. Currently, TikTok is under regulatory scrutiny
in several European countries (Netherlands, France,
Italy, Demark, and the UK) for privacy issues, rather
than national security concerns. If TikTok is found to
have breached GDPR, the company will face a fine up
to €20 million or 4 per cent of its global turnover,
whichever is higher (in each country). To avoid being
fined in several EU countries, TikTok has announced a
plan to launch a data centre in Dublin and made TikTok
Ireland the data controller of its European users.18
Outside Europe, some other countries also raised
privacy concerns over TikTok, especially over its
handling of user data of children, given that the
platform has a very strong user base among young
people (over 40 per cent users aged between 16 and
24), some of whom being under the age of 13.19 For
example, in July, South Korean data watchdog fined
TikTok around £123,000 for collecting data of
thousands of children under 14 years old without the
consent of legal guardians.20
While TikTok may be issued heavy fines if found to
have breached privacy rules in Europe or elsewhere,
the company, at least, understands what is expected
regarding data protection policies and practices. This
is exactly why a regulatory approach is better than a
ban, as it provides a more stable environment for
platforms, their users and advertisers.
Under regulatory pressure, TikTok has tried to
increase transparency of its privacy policies,
including disclosing what types of user data it
collects and how they are used. Meanwhile, in
common with major American platform companies
such as Google and Facebook, TikTok started to
publish semi-annual transparency reports since the
second half of 2019, disclosing information
regarding the volume and nature of governmental
requests for its users' account information and other
legal notifications. 21The response from TikTok shows
that regulatory scrutiny (with heavy fines) is effective
in pressuring global social media platforms to be
more responsible in handling user data.
Disinformation and censorship
Apart from data security, another type of national
security concern over TikTok in Western democracies
is that the platform can be used to spread
disinformation and to censor content displeasing to
Beijing.22 Some media reports revealed that leaked
TikTok documents instructed its moderators to
suppress content that Beijing deemed politically
sensitive, such as videos mentioning Tiananmen
Square (i.e., the 1989 political turmoil in Beijing) and
Tibetan independence.23 TikTok claims that the
leaked moderation guidelines were outdated and it
does not censor content displeasing China.
According to TikTok, its content moderation is
conducted by teams outside China following local
laws and culture. In March 2020, ByteDance
dismantled the entire Beijing team who was
responsible for overseas content moderation.24
While TikTok’s localization of content moderation
may alleviate, to some degree, concerns over the
platform in relation to disinformation and
censorship, such concerns will not die down as long
as ByteDance is in charge of TikTok’s algorithm—the
source code that decides what content each user
consumes. Microsoft, the earlier potential buyer of
TikTok’s American business, demanded that a sale
deal should include TikTok’s algorithm. However,
China’s Ministry of Commerce updated its list of
controlled exports to include recommendation
algorithms that powered TikTok in August 2020. The
later proposed TikTok-Oracle-Walmart deal provided
another option: Oracle will get full access to TikTok’s
source code and updates to ensure that there are no
back doors used by the platform. Source code
reviews are not unusual practices to alleviate
security concerns. Microsoft launched its
Government Security Program (GSP) in 2002 that
allows some 40 nations to review its source code
and later opened several transparency centres,
including one in Beijing that allow manual review
of Microsoft products by government IT experts.25
In 2018, Huawei, the Chinese telecommunication
giant, opened a Security Innovation Lab in
Germany that enables source code reviews, wth
the intention of winning the confience of German
regulators in its 5G equipment.26 It is not known
yet whether the Oracle-TikTok source code
inspection arrangement will satisfy the Trump
administration. However, source code reviews
may be a potential regulatory solution if other
countries also have security concerns regarding
TikTok’s recommendation algorithm. This summer,
TikTok opened a Transparency and Accountability
centre in Los Angeles, where invited journalists,
experts, and government officials can learn more
about its data storage, content moderation
policies, and even monitor its algorithm.27
Apart from concerns over TikTok’s China origin,
wider concerns in relation to disinformation and
censorship have also been raised with TikTok,
along with other major social media platforms.
Since the 2016 American presidential election,
there are wide concerns around the world, from
both governments and the public, over the role of
social media platforms in spreading
disinformation to influence elections.
In the EU, the Code of Practice on Disinformation is
a self-regulatory set of standards on fighting
disinformation signed by platforms including
Google, Facebook and Twitter in 2018, which aims
to achieve the objectives, set by the European
Commission, such as increasing transparency in
political advertising, closure of fake accounts and
demonetization of purveyors of disinformation.28
TikTok joined the code in June 2020. Since 2019,
TikTok ( joined later by Twitter) has banned all
paid political ads on its platform.
In addition, TikTok, which celebrated the Pride
Month for its LGBTQ+ community in June 2020,29
has been accused of shadow-banning (meaning
content can be posted but not recommended by
TikTok’s algorithm) LGBT-related content in
countries in Eastern Europe and the Middle East
like Russia, Bosnia, and Jordan. TikTok
acknowledged that this practice was partly due to
its ‘localized’ approach to content moderation,
but sometimes due to ‘mistakes’.30 This revelation
demonstrates the different approaches between
TikTok and American platforms regarding content
moderation. TikTok’s Community Guidelines state
that it considers ‘the cultural norms and local
regulations of the countries’ in which the platform
operates.31 In contrast, YouTube states that its
‘Community Guidelines are enforced consistently
across the globe, regardless of where the content
is uploaded.32 While American platforms’
‘globalized’ approach may fit well in democracies,
TikTok’s ‘localized’ approach may be plausible in
more conservative countries but is more
vulnerable to accusations of censorship.
Online harms and content moderation
Another major concern over TikTok (as well as
other platforms) around the world is the spread of
harmful content, although countries may have
different definitions and understandings about
what constitutes ‘harmful’ content.
TikTok was temporarily banned in Indonesia in
2018 and in Pakistan in 2020 for hosting ‘immoral’
or ‘inappropriate’ content. In Western
democracies, the focus on harmful content or
online harms has mainly been on issues like hate
speech, child protection, terrorism propaganda,
and copyright infringement. For TikTok, child
protection and user safety have become a
prominent issue, as it has a large proportion of
young users.
In recent years, many countries have
strengthened their measures to fight online
harmful content by introducing heavy fines and
even prosecution of social media executives if
they fail to remove content within certain time
limits. Australia passed the Sharing of Abhorrent
Violent Material Act in 2019, introducing possible
jail sentences for tech executives for up to three
6 . FROM BANNING TO REGULATING TIKTOK
FROM BANNING TO REGULATING TIKTOK . 7
years and penalties up to 10 per cent of a
company's global turnover.33 The EU and several
European countries including Germany have also
taken regulatory measures in fighting online
harmful content. For example, the EU’s proposed
Terrorist Content Regulation requires tech
companies to remove extremist content from
their platforms within one hour. Germany’s
Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG) that took effect
in 2018 obliges social networks to remove
‘manifestly unlawful content’ within 24 hours, and
systemic failure may lead to fines up to €50
million. These legislation developments have put
pressure on platforms to step up their own self-
regulatory efforts in content moderation.
Conclusion
While it may seem plausible to hold platforms
accountable for infringing data protection, spreading
disinformation, and hosting harmful content, there is
also a fine line to walk between the need on one hand
to safeguard freedom of speech and to facilitate
innovation, and on the other hand, the urgency to
maintain a safe online environment, as platforms may
over-censor content or be over-cautious regarding
innovations to avoid heavy fines.34 Overall, given that
platforms have become the main channels for global
connection, civic participation, and individual
expression, it is absolutely essential that we strengthen
the regulation of these powerful platforms, whilst
giving full consideration to freedom of speech.
8 . FROM BANNING TO REGULATING TIKTOK
Notes
1 'Mark Zuckerberg Says A Ban On TikTok Would Set "A Really Bad Long-Term Precedent"’,.BuzzFeed, 6 August 2020.
https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/zuckerberg-facebook-all-hands-tiktok-ban
2 'The TikTok Ban Should Worry Every Company', Har vard Business Review, 28 August 2020.
https://hbr.org/2020/08/the-tiktok-ban-should-worry-every-company
3 Jiang, M. (2014). 'Internet sovereignty: A new paradigm of Internet governance'. In M. Haerens & M. Zott (Eds.), Internet Censorship (Opposing
viewpoints series) (pp.23-28). Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press (Cengage Learning).
4 'Facebook to defy new Turkish social media law', Financial Times, 5 October 2020.
https://www.ft.com/content/91c0a408-6c15-45c3-80e3-d6b2cf913070
5 U.S. Department of State. The Clean Network. https://www.state.gov/the-clean-network/
6 For example, see: 'How TikTok got political', The Conversation, 2 June 2020.
https://theconversation.com/how-tiktok-got-political-139629
7 'TikTok crosses 2 billion Downloads after best quarter for any app ever', Sensor Tower, 29 April 2020.
https://sensortower.com/blog/tiktok-downloads-2-billion
8 'Facebook owns the four most downloaded apps of the decade', BBC, 12 December 2019. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-50838013
9 'Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Goole prepare for their "Big Tobacco Moment"’, The New York Times, 29 July 2020.
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/28/technology/amazon-apple-facebook-google-antitrust-hearing.html
10 'Judge rejects TikTok creators’ request to delay ban, says they won’t suffer "irreparable harm"’, The Verge, 27 September 2020.
https://www.theverge.com/2020/9/27/21458242/judge-rejects-tiktok-creators-request-ban-says-they-wont-suffer-irreparable-harm
11 'The secret sauce behind TikTok’s recommendation algorithm', The Hustle, 29 September 2020.
https://thehustle.co/09292020-tiktok-recommendation-algorithm/
12 See for example: 'Facebook Tweaks Newsfeed to Favor Content from Friends', Family', Wired, 1 Novermber 2018.
https://www.wired.com/story/facebook-tweaks-newsfeed-to-favor-content-from-friends-family/
13 'How TikTok recommends videos #ForYou', TikTok, 18 June 2020. https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-us/how-tiktok-recommends-videos-for-you
14 'TikTok, now banned in India, gave rural women fame, fun and more', The Japan Times, 23 July 2020.
https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2020/07/23/asia-pacific/tiktok-india-ban/
15 'TikTok For Independent Musicians', Millennial Mind Sync, 20 February 2020. https://www.millennialmind.co/tiktok-for-independent-musicians/
16 'CIA Finds "No Evidence" Chinese Government Has Accessed TikTok Data, Report Says', Forbes, 7 August 2020.
https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelsandler/2020/08/07/cia-finds-no-evidence-chinese-government-has-accessed-tiktok-data-report-
says/#1a6d52124c25
17 'iCloud operated by GCBD Terms and Conditions', Apple. https://www.apple.com/legal/internet-services/icloud/en/gcbd-terms.html
18 'TikTok to open $500m data centre in Ireland', BBC, 5 August 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-53664997
19 'TikTok Implements Family Safety Mode in UK', Parentology, 2 March 2020. https://parentology.com/tiktok-implements-family-safety-mode/
20 'TikTok fined for mishandling child data in South Korea', BBC, 15 July 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-53418077
21 'Our first Transparency Report', TikTok, 30 December 2019. https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-us/our-first-transparency-report
22 'Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by TikTok', White House, 6 August 2020.
https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/executive-order-addressing-threat-posed-tiktok/
23 'Revealed: how TikTok censors videos that do not please Beijing', The Guardian, 25 September 2019.
ttps://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/sep/25/revealed-how-tiktok-censors-videos-that-do-not-please-beijing
24 'TikTok to Stop Using China-Based Moderators to Monitor Overseas Content', The Wall Street Journal, 15 March 2020.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/tiktok-to-stop-using-china-based-moderators-to-monitor-overseas-content-11584300597
25 'Microsoft lets Beijing fondle its bits in new source code audit hub', The Register, 20 September 2016.
https://www.theregister.com/2016/09/20/microsoft_beijing_transparency_office/
26 'Huawei opens Security Innovation Lab in Bonn', Huawei, 16 November 2018.
https://huawei.eu/press-release/huawei-opens-security-innovation-lab-bonn
27 'Three takeaways from a visit to TikTok’s new transparency center', The Verge, 11 September 2020.
https://www.theverge.com/interface/2020/9/11/21430822/tiktok-transparency-visit-tour-algorithms-for-you-page
28 European Commission. Code of Practice on Disinformation. https://ec.europa.eu/digital-single-market/en/news/code-practice-disinformation
9 'Get involved in TikTok’s Pride parade and join us in celebrating our LGBTQ+ community!', TikTok, 26 June 2020.
https://newsroom.tiktok.com/en-gb/get-involved-in-tiktoks-pride-parade-and-join-us-in-celebrating-our-lgbtq-community-imcomingout
30 'TikTok admits restricting some LGBT hashtags', BBC, 10 September 2020. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-54102575
31 TikTok. Community Guidelines. August 2020. https://www.tiktok.com/community-guidelines?lang=en
32 Google. YouTube Community Guidelines enforcement. https://transparencyreport.google.com/youtube-policy/removals?hl=en_GB
33 Australian government. Criminal Code Amendment (Sharing of Abhorrent Violent Material) Act 2019.
https://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2019A00038
34 'Microsoft warns EU anti-terror law is "unworkable"', The Telegraph, 15 June 2020.
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2020/06/15/tech-bosses-one-hour-not-enough-time-assess-terrorist-content/
The Foundation
The mission of the Foundation is to study, reflect on,
and promote an understanding of the role that law
plays in society. This is achieved by identifying and
analysing issues of contemporary interest and
importance. In doing so, it draws on the work of
scholars and researchers, and aims to make its work
easily accessible to practitioners and professionals,
whether in government, business, or the law.
Dr Jufang Wang is deputy director of the
Platforms, Governance, and Global Society (PGG)
programme based at Wolfson College, University of
Oxford. Her research focuses on digital media
platforms, media policy and Internet governance,
and wider issues concerning China. She is working
on a book about China’s online public opinion
control in the platform age. She can be contacted
at: wangjufang01@gmail.com
www.fljs.or
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Wolfson College
Linton Road
Oxford OX2 6UD
T . +44 (0)1865 284433
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. +44 (0)1865 284434
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For further information please visit
our website at www.fljs.org
or contact us at:
The Foundation for Law, Justice and Society
www.fljs.org
... That is why a few countries have placed a temporary ban on Tik-Tok, including India, considering its fatalities. According to Wang (2020), TikTok was briefly blocked in Indonesia in 2018 and Pakistan in 2020 for providing 'morally wrong' or 'offensive' videos. From this, the use of TikTok can also lead to danger if people do not use it properly. ...
Article
Full-text available
The number of young adults using various applications is increasing. Life in the 21 st century requires people to constantly familiarize themselves with newly invented technologies that facilitate many aspects of life, including education. To this aim, some students choose to use the TikTok application. Students' perceptions of using TikTok in education have yet to be explored. The present questionnaires with 111 university students aim to explore two research questions: (1) What are the university students' experiences of using TikTok? and (2) What are the university students' perceptions of using TikTok in education? The results are presented in two parts according to the research objectives. The first part relates to students' experiences of using TikTok which focuses on the usage of TikTok and the difficulties they encountered. Five themes emerged from the question related to difficulties: privacy issues, technical difficulties, concerns about video content, lack of skills, and hindrance to learning. The second part of the findings focuses on learners' perceptions on the use of TikTok in education and the benefits of TikTok in learning. The latter revealed three main themes: entertainment, improving English skills and providing learning resources. These insights into students' perceptions of TikTok use in education can guide teachers and learners, as well as policymakers, in optimizing the use of TikTok in education.
... One of the biggest threats to young people on social media sites is their digital footprint which refers to the collective and continuous record of a person's Web activity (Dilon, 2020). Western democracies identified this as a threat and focused on the harmful content or online harms mainly based on issues like hate speech, child protection, terrorism propaganda, and copyright infringement (Wang, 2020). The data collected by the TikTok app can create both privacy concerns for individuals and national security risks (Hoffman, 2021). ...
Thesis
During this time of globalization, the mode of recreation and communication has dramatically changed and is oriented around social media. People are finding themselves glued to the screen both for work and entertainment. Like every coin has two sides, these virtual media of communication can have a considerable impact on deviance and crime in a society. Tiktok is such social media platform that enables us to produce and share short videos and explore ourselves in front of the global and local audience. Recent crime news related to TikTok and the new popular culture of such micro-entertainment prompted this study with the rationale to add to the literature of cultural criminology. The study aims to scrutinize the uses, features, and contents of the TikTok app to understand its role in crime and deviance in society. It will focus on the class of the users of Bangladesh and attempt to connect with crime and deviance that derive from their TikTok contents. It also shed light on characteristics of crimes and deviances that emanates from TikTok. The study methodology is Case Studies of fifteen crime cases related to TikTok, and Qualitative Content Analysis of ten top profiles of TikTok in Bangladesh and the Foryou page of TikTok with specific hashtags following convenience sampling. The study found distinct characteristics of crime and deviance related to TikTok, such as performance crime, copy-cat crime and fame driven crime. The study attempted to determine the class and age of the offenders of the crimes and deviances that originate from TikTok in Bangladesh and identify specific crimes such as rape, murder, sexual assault, fraudulence etc., that have already been committed using this app. Keywords: Social Media, TikTok, Crime, Deviance
... 74 To counter censorship (and data security) concerns, the company has adopted a series of measures in recent years: (1) separating Douyin (Chinese version of TikTok) from TikTok, with the latter not available to Chinese domestic users, in order to meet different content rules in domestic and overseas markets; (2) disbanded the whole Beijing team responsible for content moderation in overseas markets in March 2020 and granted the moderation task to local overseas teams; (3) following local laws and cultures in content moderation (in both democratic and authoritarian countries); (4) opening several transparency centres around the globe to illustrate how its content recommendation and moderation is carried out. 75 We recently examined the Uighurs-related videos (a topic deemed sensitive by Beijing) on TikTok UK to see how the platform moderates such content and whether censorship can be detected. By searching on TikTok using the keywords "Uighur" and "Uighur Muslims"(Uighurs are an ethnic minority in China and most of them are Muslims), we found that all the popular videos in terms of views are about Xinjiang "genocide", and that many of which have over 100k views (some near 1 million views). ...
Research
Full-text available
Amid US-China tech rivalry, the position of Europe is crucial in shaping the future direction of global technology competition. Initially, Europe was divided on policies towards Chinese tech companies, and many European countries resisted pressure from the US to exclude Chinese telecoms giant Huawei from the rollout of their 5G networks. However, the last two years saw many European countries changing course and aligning closer with the US. In this research report, Dr Jufang Wang and Professor Denis Galligan identified two main core interests of Europe in the digital world: digital sovereignty and global technology leadership. They conducted an analysis of the perceived risks associated with Chinese tech companies in Europe. Based on the identified European interests and the risk analysis, they argue that while European countries’ concerns are understandable, it is not in the interest of Europe to follow a geopolitical approach to exclude Chinese tech companies; instead, Europe should resort more to technical solutions to tackle potential risks, rely more on its regulatory power to foster innovation and growth of local tech companies; and adopt a more multilateral approach to set global standards for emerging technologies and to promote European digital values.
... Perhaps the most drastic measure was taken by then U.S. president Donald Trump in August 2020, when he signed an executive order to ban the platform in the name of national security (Singh, 2020). TikTok has also been temporarily or permanently banned in countries including Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan for allowing illicit content to be posted or hosted (Parkin, 2019;Wang, 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
TikTok, a short-video app featuring video content between 15 and 60 seconds long, has in the last few years become immensely popular around the world. Because of its Chinese ownership and popularity among underage users, however, the platform has attracted criticism and been subject to close scrutiny. Despite these hurdles, TikTok has emerged as a hub for creativity and is being used by educators and governments to reach out to the younger demographic. This Special Section is among the first collections of articles in the growing field of studies on TikTok and its legacy apps. It provides a glimpse of the nascent framings, approaches, methodologies, and applications of TikTok studies in the field of social media scholarship.
... Perhaps the most drastic measure was taken by then U.S. president Donald Trump in August 2020, when he signed an executive order to ban the platform in the name of national security (Singh, 2020). TikTok has also been temporarily or permanently banned in countries including Indonesia, Bangladesh, and Pakistan for allowing illicit content to be posted or hosted (Parkin, 2019;Wang, 2020). ...
Article
Full-text available
Since its launch in 2018, TikTok has become one of the fastest growing social media applications in the world, being particularly popular among young people. Memetic videos, which often feature lip-syncing, dance routines, and comedic skits, are a defining feature of the platform. This study used quantitative content analysis and qualitative thematic analysis to examine science memes, an increasingly popular genre of memes on TikTok, by analyzing 1,368 TikTok videos that feature science-related content. The results of the study uncover the most influential science-content creators, the most prevalent content in science memes, and three vernacular styles of science memes on TikTok. The results expand the existing science-communication scholarship focusing on the context of social media. Understanding the role of memetic science content on short-video platforms, as well as in the youth digital culture in general, also provides valuable insights into how science communicators can better engage with members of the young generation.
... As the large user numbers in a very short time-window demonstrate, TikTok not only represents a global phenomenon but also has been criticized with respect to data protection issues/privacy (5,6), spreading hate (7) and might serve as a platform engendering cyberbullying (8,9). Given the many young users of this platform (e.g., 81.68% of China users of Tiktok are under 35 years old-see above, and 32.5% of the US users are 19 years old and younger) 4 , it is of particular relevance to better understand the motivation to use TikTok, alongside related topics. ...
Article
Full-text available
TikTok (in Chinese: DouYin; formerly known as musical.ly) currently represents one of the most successful Chinese social media applications in the world. Since its founding in September 2016, TikTok has seen widespread distribution, in particular, attracting young users to engage in viewing, creating, and commenting on “LipSync-Videos” on the app. Despite its success in terms of user numbers, psychological studies aiming at an understanding of TikTok use are scarce. This narrative review provides a comprehensive overview on the small empirical literature available thus far. In particular, insights from uses and gratification theory in the realm of TikTok are highlighted, and we also discuss aspects of the TikTok platform design. Given the many unexplored research questions related to TikTok use, it is high time to strengthen research efforts to better understand TikTok use and whether certain aspects of its use result in detrimental behavioral effects. In light of user characteristics of the TikTok platform, this research is highly relevant because TikTok users are often adolescents and therefore from a group of potentially vulnerable individuals.
Article
Full-text available
يُعتبر تطبيق "تيك توك" من التطبيقات التي لاقت انتشارًا واسعًا على مستوى العالم، وآثار التطبيق كثيرًا من الجدل في العالم حول التحديات الأمنية والمخاطر الاجتماعية التي يُعْتَقَد أنه يتسبب بها، لدرجة أن عددًا من الدول اتخذت إجراءات بحظره، أو تقييده جزئيًّا. وحَلَّلَت الورقةُ مجمل صور الجدل العالمي حول التطبيق، وفَنَّدَت التحديات والمخاطر المرتبطة به، وكشفت عن أن كثيرًا من الجدل والنزاع العالمي حول تطبيق "تيك توك"، هو بمثابة نوع من الحرب الباردة بين عدد من الدول ودولة منشأ التطبيق (الصين)، وأن مجمل التحديات الأمنية والمخاطر الاجتماعية التي ترتبط بالتطبيق، ليست جديدة، ولا قاصرة عليه دون التطبيقات الأخرى الخاصة بالتواصل الاجتماعي. وأوصت الورقة بأن سياسات التنظيم والرقابة الجزئية على "تيك توك"، تعتبر نهجًا ملائمًا للتصدي للتحديات الأمنية والمخاطر الاجتماعية، وأكثر كفاءة من سياسات الحظر، كما أنها نهج طويل الأجل وقائم على القواعد المهمة والفاعلة لمعالجة مجمل المخاوف المتعلقة بمنصات التواصل الاجتماعي عامة.
The TikTok Ban Should Worry Every Company
Mark Zuckerberg Says A Ban On TikTok Would Set "A Really Bad Long-Term Precedent"',.BuzzFeed, 6 August 2020. https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/ryanmac/zuckerberg-facebook-all-hands-tiktok-ban 2 'The TikTok Ban Should Worry Every Company', Harvard Business Review, 28 August 2020. https://hbr.org/2020/08/the-tiktok-ban-should-worry-every-company
Internet sovereignty: A new paradigm of Internet governance
  • M Jiang
Jiang, M. (2014). 'Internet sovereignty: A new paradigm of Internet governance'. In M. Haerens & M. Zott (Eds.), Internet Censorship (Opposing viewpoints series) (pp.23-28). Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press (Cengage Learning).
TikTok crosses 2 billion Downloads after best quarter for any app ever
  • Sensor Tower
Sensor Tower. 29 April 2020. TikTok crosses 2 billion Downloads after best quarter for any app ever. https://sensortower.com/blog/tiktok-downloads-2-billion
TikTok Implements Family Safety Mode in UK
  • Parentology
Parentology. 2 March 2020. TikTok Implements Family Safety Mode in UK. https://parentology.com/tiktok-implements-familysafety-mode/
TikTok fined for mishandling child data in South Korea
  • Bbc
BBC. 15 July 2020. TikTok fined for mishandling child data in South Korea. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-53418077
Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by TikTok
  • White House
White House. 6 August 2020. Executive Order on Addressing the Threat Posed by TikTok. https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidentialactions/executive-order-addressing-threat-posedtiktok/
Revealed: how TikTok censors videos that do not please Beijing
  • The Guardian
The Guardian. 25 September 2019. Revealed: how TikTok censors videos that do not please Beijing. ttps://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/se p/25/revealed-how-tiktok-censors-videos-thatdo-not-please-beijing
Three takeaways from a visit to TikTok's new transparency center
  • Huawei
Huawei. 16 November 2018. Huawei opens Security Innovation Lab in Bonn. https://huawei.eu/press-release/huawei-openssecurity-innovation-lab-bonn 27 The Verge. 11 September 2020. Three takeaways from a visit to TikTok's new transparency center. https://www.theverge.com/interface/2020/9/11/2 1430822/tiktok-transparency-visit-touralgorithms-for-you-page
get-involved-in-tiktoks-pride-parade-and-join-usin-celebrating-our-lgbtq-community-imcomingout 30 BBC
  • Tiktok
TikTok. 26 June 2020. Get involved in TikTok's Pride parade and join us in celebrating our LGBTQ+ community! https://newsroom.tiktok.com/engb/get-involved-in-tiktoks-pride-parade-and-join-usin-celebrating-our-lgbtq-community-imcomingout 30 BBC. 10 September 2020. TikTok admits restricting some LGBT hashtags. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-54102575
Community Guidelines
  • Tiktok
TikTok. Community Guidelines. August 2020. https://www.tiktok.com/community-guidelines?lang=en