Skip to main content

TikTok wants to prove it’s not censoring content by letting experts come watch

China-based TikTok has been accused of censorship about as many times as Facebook has been accused of providing questionable privacy. To help build user trust, TikTok is opening a location where moderators can be observed in action. The TikTok Transparency Center, announced on March 11, will allow outside experts to see how content moderation at TikTok works.

The center, which will be part of TikTok’s Los Angeles office, invites experts to evaluate the social platform’s Trust & Safety standards. TikTok says those experts will be invited to see how moderators apply those guidelines in real life, including by reviewing posts that the software has flagged and looking at posts that the technology didn’t catch. 

The center will also allow experts to see how users communicate concerns and how staff responds. TikTok says the center will help experts see how the content that remains on the platform and the content that’s removed from the platform line up with the network’s newly updated Community Guidelines.

“We expect the Transparency Center to operate as a forum where observers will be able to provide meaningful feedback on our practices,” TikTok general manager Vanessa Pappas wrote in a blog post. “Our landscape and industry is rapidly evolving, and we are aware that our systems, policies, and practices are not flawless, which is why we are committed to constant improvement.”

TikTok says that content moderation is only the initial focus for the center. A planned second phase will allow experts to observe work in data privacy, security, and source code.

The TikTok Transparency Center is slated to open in May, shortly after TikTok’s new chief information security officer, Roland Cloutier, starts working with the company.

TikTok is owned by ByteDance, a company based in China, where censorship laws are strict. TikTok is regularly accused of censoring different topics, from transgender users to Tiananmen Square. Others have accused the app of being spyware. The company paid a $5.7 million fine last year for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. Late last year, the U.S. government launched a national security investigation into the company’s acquisition of due to a failure to obtain clearance from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States.

Meanwhile, TikTok’s short video format is continuing to grow — last year, the platform was estimated to have 700 million new downloads.

Editors' Recommendations

Hillary K. Grigonis
Hillary never planned on becoming a photographer—and then she was handed a camera at her first writing job and she's been…
TikTok is launching a dedicated gaming channel
Person's hand holding a smartphone with TikTok's logo on screen, all in front of a blurred background.

TikTok is moving further into the games industry by launching its own dedicated gaming channel.

According to a report from Financial Times, the channel will allow TikTok users to access games by pressing a tab on the ByteDance-owned social media platform's homepage. Four people familiar with the matter said that the channel will feature a variety of mobile games — some of which the company already developed — with ads and additional content that users can purchase.

Read more
Is TikTok leaking drafts? Let’s take a closer look at this rumor
The TikTok app on a smartphone's screen. The smartphone is sitting on a white table.

Not every social media post is ready for prime time. Sometimes you write a post or film a video and decide that it's better to not publish it. That's fine. That's what the Drafts folder is for. That folder is built to hold your works-in-progress, mistakes, and other too-goofy-for-public-consumption posts and videos. The Drafts folder is probably one that you take for granted, but what if that folder (via a particularly viral-prone social media platform) were to have its content leaked and published for the world to see? Scary, isn't it?

That's the fear that's behind a certain, now years-long TikTok rumor going around. But is it true? Is TikTok leaking its users' drafts? In this guide, we're taking a closer look at this rumor and fact-checking it.
The rumor
As far as we can tell, the whole "TikTok leaks drafts" rumor dates back to at least the summer of 2020. It's not a rumor that really made mainstream news headlines, but it did get some coverage with lesser-known websites, and it does have a tendency to resurface repeatedly. The last time it resurfaced was in August 2022. Here's what we know about it:

Read more
TikTok pivots to photos while its competitors are still chasing its viral videos
Smartphone with TikTok's Photo Mode all on a white background.

TikTok's competitors have been all over the news recently for essentially copying the short-form video sharing app's  most successful moves. But while everyone else is pivoting to video, TikTok is now taking swings in the other direction: photos.

On Thursday, TikTok announced a slew of new editing and creation features, but the one tool that caught our eye was Photo Mode. Because the image that TikTok shared in its official announcement depicted a photo carousel-style image post that looks a lot like Instagram.

Read more