TikTok will open a center in Europe where external experts will be shown content moderation and recommendation as well as information about platform security and user privacy, it announced today.
The European Transparency and Accountability Center (TAC) is being billed as part of its “commitment to transparency” – and similarly after the opening of an American center last year.
Soon after announcing its US TAC, TikTok also created a Content Advisory Council on the market – and went into Europe this March with a different mix of experts to replicate the advisory body structure.
It is now mimicking America’s approach with a fully dedicated European TAC.
To-date, Tiktok said that more than 70 experts and policymakers have participated in a virtual US tour, where they are able to learn operational details and question its safety and security practices.
The short-form video social media site has faced increasing scrutiny over its content policies and ownership structure in recent years, as its popularity has grown.
Concerns in the US are largely focused on the risk of censorship and the protection of user data, noting that the platform is owned by a Chinese tech giant and subject to Internet data laws defined by the Chinese Communist Party.
Whereas, in Europe, legalists, regulators and civil society continue to raise a broad mix of concerns – including issues of child safety and data privacy.
In a notable development earlier this year, the Italian data protection regulator made an emergency intervention following the death of a local girl who was allegedly participating in a content challenge on stage. TikTok agreed to re-examine the age of all users on its platform in Italy.
TikTok said that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the European TAC would virtually start functioning. But the plan is to open a physical center in Ireland – where it bases its regional headquarters in 2022.
European Union lawmakers have recently proposed updates to digital legislation that are set to emphasize the accountability of AI systems – including content recommendation engines.
A draft AI regulation submitted last week by the Commission also proposes a similar restriction on the unconscious use of AI technology to manipulate people’s behavior in ways that may be harmful to people or others. Therefore content recommending engines, for example, suggest users to do harm to themselves, to promote suicidal content or risky challenges. (The draft law suggests penalties of up to 6% of global annual turnover to curb violations.)
It is certainly worth noting that Tiktok also specifies that its European TAC will provide detailed information in its recommended technology.
The company wrote in a press release, “The center will provide experts, academics and policymakers with the opportunity to see for the first time the Teetalk teams working to provide a positive and safe experience to the platform for the Tiktok community.” It also explains how it uses the technique “to keep Tiktok’s community safe”; How trained content review teams make decisions about content based on their community guidelines; And “the way human reviewers complement moderation efforts by using technology to help catch potential violations of our policies”.
Another component of the EU draft AI regulation sets a requirement for human inspection of high-risk applications of artificial intelligence. However, it is unclear whether the social media platform would fall under the specific obligation given to the current set of categories in the draft regulation.
However, the AI Regulation is just one piece of the Commission’s platform-focused rulemaking.
At the end of last year it also proposed extensive updates to digital services regulations under the DSA and DMA, which would impose diligence obligations on platforms – and large platforms to explain any algorithmic rankings and hierarchies that might arise to them. Is required. And TikTok is very likely to fall under that requirement.
The UK – which is now off the block, post-Brexit – is also working on its online security regulation, due to be introduced this year. Therefore, in the coming years, Europe will have a number of content-focused regulatory regulations for platforms such as TicketLock to comply with. And opening up algorithms to outside experts may be a tough legal requirement, not a soft PR.
Commenting on the launch of its European TAC in a statement, Cormac Keenan, TikTok’s trust and security chief: “With over 100 million users across Europe, we understand our responsibility to gain the trust of our community and the wider public. Our Transparency and Accountability Center is the next stage of our journey to help people better understand teams, processes and technology, helping us keep TickTalk a place for enjoyment, creativity and entertainment. We know there is so much to do and we are excited to address the challenges that lie ahead. I would like to welcome experts from across Europe and we can improve our system by listening to their feedback on their methods. “