TikTok Releases Transparency Report as Global Scrutiny Mounts
TikTok revealed it deleted nearly 50 million videos from its platform in the second half of last year, as the internationally popular Chinese-owned short-video app faces increasing scrutiny from overseas authorities.
The ByteDance Ltd. unit’s latest transparency report comes after the app was banned in India last month and U.S. President Donald Trump said he was considering a similar measure. The two countries are the platform’s largest markets.
According to the report, many of the videos deleted by the app were uploaded by users in India and the U.S. — 16.45 million and 4.57 million respectively. The South Asian nation made up 33% of the total, while the North American country contributed 9.2% of the deletions.
As of the end of March, TikTok, and its separate Chinese version Douyin, accumulated more than 2 billion downloads, according to a report from data provider Sensor Tower. India accounted for 30% of the total combined downloads of the apps, followed by China and the U.S., with 9.7% and 8.2% respectively.
TikTok said the over 49 million deleted videos fell into a total of nine categories, including “violent and graphic content,” “hate speech” and “adult nudity and sexual activities.” The deleted videos accounted for less than 1% of the total number of clips posted to the platform during the period, according to the report.
TikTok’s second transparency report was released as the company faces growing pressure from regulators. The Indian government made an unprecedented announcement last month that it was banning 59 Chinese apps, including TikTok, which were accused of transmitting users’ data out of the country among other issues.
TikTok has since been removed from India’s app stores, including those operated by Google and Apple.
In the U.S., the app has faced heightened attention since early last year, facing allegations such as violating child protection rules and failing to safeguard users’ data.
Recently, U.S. attacks on the app have grown more intense. On July 6, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo suggested that the U.S. may ban Chinese social media apps, and that using TikTok would put citizens’ “private information in the hands of the Chinese Communist Party.” The follow day, President Donald Trump confirmed that his administration was “looking at” banning TikTok.
TikTok had repeatedly stated it doesn’t allow any government to access user data, including the Chinese government. It has rolled out several measures in an attempt to assuage regulators’ concern, including by setting up transparency centers around the world, including two in the U.S., to showcase how it manages user data.
Following its decision in May to appoint longtime Disney executive Kevin Mayer as its global CEO, TikTok has further ramped up efforts to distance itself from its Chinese roots. That included its decision earlier this week to exit the Hong Kong market in the wake of the imposition of a national security law by Beijing on the semi-automatous Chinese city.
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