TikTok is reportedly on the hunt for a US-based CEO, and it could be the company's latest step to distance itself from ties to China
TikTok, the viral app for creating and sharing short videos, may be searching for a CEO based in the US, Bloomberg reports. The CEO would oversee TikTok's day-to-day operations and "non-technical functions," and work alongside the app's two most senior executives: TikTok chief Alex Zhu, who is based in Asia, and Vanessa Pappas, who heads TikTok's US operations. The move may help to distance TikTok from ByteDance, its Chinese parent company, and appease concerns that the Chinese government plays a role in censoring content and accessing user data. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
TikTok, the wildly popular social app, is reportedly on the hunt for a CEO based in the US in a move that could help to appease mounting concerns over how its ties to the Chinese government have posed threats to user censorship and national security. Bloomberg reported Wednesday that candidates have been interviewed "in recent months" to fill the CEO position at TikTok. The US-based CEO would work alongside TikTok's China-based chief, Alex Zhu, and Vanessa Pappas, who currently oversees TikTok's US operations out of its Los Angeles office. It's still unclear how exactly the new leadership structure for TikTok would work, but Bloomberg says the US-based CEO could potentially be in charge of the app's "non-technical functions" — relating to advertising and operations. TikTok's roots are currently embedded in China, where its parent company, ByteDance, is located. These ties to China have earned TikTok intense scrutiny from US lawmakers, who have major concerns over the risks it poses to cybersecurity and user privacy, as well as its influence over censoring content. ByteDance's search for a US-based CEO for TikTok may be the company's latest strategy to appease concerns from the US government. Reports back in December indicated TikTok was looking to set up new headquarters outside of China to further its distance from the Chinese government. TikTok's meteoric rise has been well-documented. The app, a place for making and sharing short viral videos, has more than 1.5 billion downloads worldwide, and is outperforming popular social competitors like Instagram and Snapchat. It's been a launchpad for internet comedy and memes, and has become one of the go-to apps for the teens of Generation Z. In past months, the US government has put mounting pressure on TikTok in response to what it sees as national security concerns. The US government opened a national security investigation back in November examining the relationship between the platform and the Chinese government, and the US army banned soldiers from using TikTok on government-issued phones and devices earlier this month. Zhu, the TikTok chief, had planned to meet with US lawmakers in December about these concerns, but the meetings were canceled last minute. Nonetheless, TikTok has consistently defended itself by asserting that none of its moderators are based in China, and that no "foreign government" asks the platform to censor content. Others have raised concerns that the ties between China and TikTok puts the privacy of users' data at risk. A class-action lawsuit was recently filed in California by a college student who alleges that her private information and unpublished content was accessed by TikTok without her permission and stored on servers in China. TikTok settled another lawsuit in December 2019 related to children's privacy, paying out $1.1 million related to allegations that the app collected the information of children under 13 without their parents' consent. TikTok has also faced allegations that it censors "culturally problematic" and political content that could be seen as offensive to the Chinese government, according to former employees' reports to The Washington Post and documents obtained by The Guardian and the German blog Netzpolitik. When pro-democracy protests broke out in Hong Kong earlier this year, TikTok was curiously devoid of any hints of unrest, and videos instead documented a prettier picture.SEE ALSO: Jeff Bezos breaks silence on reports that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman hacked his phone by commemorating the journalist whose murder was linked to the Saudi government Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: Apple just released iOS 13.2 with 60 new emoji and emoji variations. Here's how everyday people submit their own emoji.
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TikTok says it will explicitly ban Holocaust denial and other conspiracy theories denying violent events
TikTok released an updated set of community guidelines on Wednesday. Its rules now explicitly ban "content...TikTok released an updated set of community guidelines on Wednesday. Its rules now explicitly ban "content that denies well-documented and violent events have taken place." This includes Holocaust denial, and other similar conspiracy theories. TikTok appears to be trying to sidestep moderation problems that have plagued large social media companies like Facebook and YouTube. Last year internal documents leaked by The Guardian showed that TikTok moderators were directed to remove content likely to upset the Chinese government, including mentions of Tiananmen Square. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories. TikTok released a new set of updated community guidelines on Wednesday, and among them is a rule explicitly banning content that "denies well-documented and violent events have taken place." The rule falls under the "hateful ideology" section in the new guidelines, and would apply to Holocaust denial, a TikTok spokesman confirmed to Business Insider. How social media companies deal with conspiracy theories rooted in bigotry has become a thorny issue for social media companies. In a 2018 interview Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he wouldn't ban Holocaust denial on Facebook. "I find [Holocaust denialism] deeply offensive. But at the end of the day, I don't believe that our platform should take that down because I think there are things that different people get wrong. I don't think that they're intentionally getting it wrong," Zuckerberg said. Zuckerberg's stance has drawn sharp criticism from civil rights organisations like the Anti-Defamation League, and continues to do so. Actor Sacha Baron Cohen attacked Zuckerberg in a speech at the ADL late last year. "We have, unfortunately, millions of pieces of evidence for the Holocaust — it is an historical fact. And denying it is not some random opinion. Those who deny the Holocaust aim to encourage another one," Baron Cohen said. YouTube has also struggled with deluges of conspiracy theories proliferating on the site. It wasn't until June last year that YouTube put an explicit ban on Holocaust denial. And right-wing YouTuber Alex Jones was sued by the parents of children killed in the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre, after peddling conspiracy theories on his show that the attack was a hoax. YouTube subsequently booted Alex Jones from its site, and the conspiracy videos are no longer visible. TikTok also confirmed that its new rule would also apply to Sandy Hook conspiracies. By including this line in its community guidelines TikTok appears to be setting itself apart from older Silicon Valley behemoths like Facebook and YouTube. However, TikTok has had its own problems with historical erasure. Last year The Guardian viewed guideline documents for TikTok moderators that directed them to remove content that could upset the Chinese government, including mentions of Tiananmen Square and the Cambodian genocide. TikTok is owned by Chinese company ByteDance. Responding at the time, TikTok said the guidelines in question were outdated, and it had taken a "blunt approach to minimizing conflict" in its early days. Reports of Beijing-friendly censorship is one of the elements of TikTok's Chinese ownership which has placed it in the crosshairs of US lawmakers. TikTok has been making concerted attempts to reassure America, publishing its first ever transparency report last week and claiming it received more censorship requests from the US than from China in 2019. Enforcing the new guidelines and actually monitoring the app for conspiracy theories may also be tricky. A spokesman declined to say how many moderators TikTok deploys, and would only say that the number has grown over the past year. Do you work at TikTok? Got a tip? Contact this reporter via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com. You can alsocontact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.SEE ALSO: The US Army has barred soldiers from using TikTok on government phones Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: 8 weird robots NASA wants to send to space
Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Monday. Elon Musk won...Good morning! This is the tech news you need to know this Monday. Elon Musk won the defamation trial over his "pedo guy" tweet. "My faith in humanity is restored," Musk said after the verdict was announced. Reddit released the most upvoted posts of 2019, and it shows how much trolling is part of the platform's culture. Included in the list of top posts are a timely dad joke, a wholesome cartoon, and a random stream of consciousness. China has ordered all non-Chinese PCs and software be removed from government offices within the next three years, the Financial Times reports. Chinese government agencies have to replace 30% of foreign equipment by next year, followed by 50% in 2021, then 20% in 2022. TikTok's chief is heading to Washington to defend the video-sharing platform against censorship and privacy concerns as lawsuits and investigations pile up.The US government is currently investigating TikTok over concerns about its ties to China because its parent company, ByteDance, is based there. Homeland Security is walking back its plans to use facial recognition on US citizens traveling internationally. Facial recognition scanning is already a requirement for non-citizens who travel in the US. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Trump after news that Amazon plans to hire 1,500 employees in New York City. In February Amazon cancelled its HQ2 plans to add 25,000 jobs in New York, and laid the blame with local politicians such as Ocasio-Cortez opposing the deal. Snapchat is launching a feature that essentially deepfakes users' selfies onto gifs, TechCrunch reports. The feature is called "cameo" and is an alternative to Bitmojis. Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz is reportedly looking at a direct listing for his $1.5 billion startup Asana to go public next year. According to the FT, Asana has hired Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase to advise on its listing. A top US Marine said young troops should not be blamed for using TikTok. Gen. David Berger said it was the army's responsibility to educate younger troops about the risks of technology. Cybersecurity insiders say big companies use NDAs to hide data breaches, potentially avoiding millions of dollars in fines. One cybersecurity employee told Business Insider a major international law firm suffered a hack where its webcams were hijacked to listen in on sensitive meetings for weeks on end. Have an Amazon Alexa device? Now you can hear 10 Things in Tech each morning. Just search for "Business Insider" in your Alexa's flash briefing settings. You can also subscribe to this newsletter here — just tick "10 Things in Tech You Need to Know.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: People are still debating the pink or grey sneaker, 2 years after it went viral. Here's the real color explained.