Inside TikTok’s Transparency Center: Visitors are barred from entering a room, which is said to be ‘inviolable’
- Tram Ho
TikTok is facing the risk of being banned across the US. The short video app is currently not allowed on federal employees’ devices, is blocked by dozens of universities across the country, and is even at risk of being removed from the US app stores.
Against this backdrop, Alex Health and several other journalists were invited to TikTok’s Los Angeles headquarters for the first media tour at the “Center for Accountability and Transparency.” According to The Verge, the center is designed to provide an opportunity for regulators, academics and auditors to learn about TikTok’s operations and security. The company is also planning to open more transparency centers in Washington, DC, Dublin and Singapore.
The tour is one of TikTok’s efforts to promote Project Texas, a new proposal to convince the US government to partition user data rather than enforce a nationwide ban. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew traveled to DC last week to make recommendations to policymakers and advisory organizations. In March, he will testify before Congress for the first time.
TikTok isn’t the first tech company to experience a media crisis. Previously, in order to prevent fraud in the election, Facebook also established an Election War Department at the company’s headquarters, specializing in monitoring and handling acts that prevent voters from voting online. society. This social network then also invited journalists to visit.
As told by Alex Health, TikTok’s Accountability and Transparency Center is incredibly well designed. A large touchscreen explains in detail how TikTok works, giving a better overview of the platform’s efforts to improve trust.
However, there was a secret room that the group of journalists visiting that day were not allowed to enter. A TikTok representative said it was the server room containing the source code. Anyone entering must sign a non-disclosure agreement, go through a metal scanner, and leave their phone in a locker. It is unclear exactly who will be allowed into this room.
According to The Verge, journalist Alex Health had the opportunity to tour the room that ran the “code simulator”, but it really only showed the most basic things about TikTok’s algorithm. The company representative also asked visitors not to quote or draw conclusions directly after listening to what the tour guide shared.
In the censorship room, TikTok illustrated a few potentially infringing videos with basic information such as the account holder’s name, likes, and reshares. The system will then ask the moderators to decide if the video violates any policies, such as the “threats and incites” policy.
Through research, Alex Health learned that TikTok will use a “raw machine learning model” to select “a set of several thousand videos” from billions of videos stored in the application. Then, two other machine learning models will further narrow down the videos and deliver them to viewers based on their interests.
However, the information displayed is very vague. One slide says TikTok “recommends content by ranking videos based on a combination of factors, including user preferences the first time they interact and preferences changes over time.” . That’s exactly how you would expect it to work.
TikTok first tried to open a transparency center in 2020 – a time when former US President Donald Trump tried to ban the app. The epidemic caused the center to be suspended until now.
Over the past three years, DC’s lack of trust with TikTok has deepened, and has led to a series of allegations about user security and privacy. Previously, 2 employees in the US and 2 employees in China were fired for unauthorized access to the data of US users, including two journalists.
“The public trust that we work so hard to build has been significantly damaged by misconduct on the part of a few individuals,” Liang Rubo, ByteDance CEO, wrote to employees in an email. internal.
In response, TikTok plans to launch Project Texas. This is considered one of the most highly technical plans ever to block most of TikTok’s activities in the US from Chinese parent company ByteDance.
To make Project Texas a reality, TikTok currently relies on Oracle – the company where founder Larry Ellison leverages relationships as an influential sponsor to secure support. officials in the early stages of negotiations.
It is known that Project Texas was launched to address a number of existing issues, including organizational design, data protection, access control, technology assurance, content assurance, and compliance. monitor and supervise. Thousands of employees and more than 1.5 billion USD have been mobilized to build this project.
According to The Verge, at least seven external auditors, including Oracle, will review all incoming and outgoing data for the US version of TikTok. If the proposal is approved by the government, TikTok will spend about 700 million to 1 billion USD/year to maintain the project.
I don’t know if Project Texas will please the government, but it will probably make it harder to get a job at TikTok. The US version of TikTok will have to be completely decrypted by Oracle, rebuilt, and distributed to the US app stores. Oracle will also have to review any application updates to ensure user security.
By: The Verge, BI
Source : Genk