The decade's most triggering comedy
American lawmakers have raised concerns over allegations that information on TikTok, which is controlled by Chinese technology company ByteDance, can be manipulated by associates of the Chinese Communist Party. Some have also noted that TikTok is one of several large social media sites which tend to censor conservative viewpoints. Chew affirmed in an interview at a TED conference in Vancouver, British Columbia, that his company has a massive content moderation operation based in Ireland which uses artificial intelligence systems to censor posts.
“There are some bad actors who come on the internet, they post bad content. Our approach is that we have very clear community guidelines. We’re very transparent about what is allowed and what is not allowed on our platform. No executives make any ad hoc decisions,” Chew said. “Based on that, we have built a team that is tens of thousands of people plus machines in order to identify content that is bad, and actively, proactively remove it from the platform.”
Chew added that the content moderation staffers constitute “one of the most important cost items” at his firm but are “completely worth” the expense. He admitted that human personnel are necessary since the AI systems used by his company are “not perfect.”
“You have to complement them with a lot of human beings,” he continued. “A lot of the progress in AI in general is making that kind of content moderation capabilities a lot better. We’re going to get more precise, we’re going to get more specific.”
TikTok has indeed censored a number of commentators for ambiguous reasons. Daily Wire co-CEO Jeremy Boreing noted on Wednesday that Brett Cooper, the host of The Daily Wire’s “Comments Section,” had been permanently banned from TikTok for uncertain reasons. Cooper announced on Thursday that she had been reinstated after public and legal pressure.
“We still don’t know why I was banned in the first place. They won’t give us an answer. They never do,” she recounted. “I’m proud to be on a team that never bends a knee, always fights smart, and consistently wins.”
Beyond the concerns some lawmakers have cited over the company’s content moderation practices, Democratic and Republican officials alike have accused TikTok of permitting members of the Chinese Communist Party to access American user data. President Joe Biden and several state officials have banned TikTok from government devices over data security and surveillance concerns after reports indicated that ByteDance staffers in China used the platform to monitor the locations of specific American users.
Chew insisted in his testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee last month that a forced sale of TikTok to an American company would not resolve the national security issues cited by lawmakers. “I am well aware that the fact that ByteDance has Chinese founders has prompted concerns that our platform could be used as or become a tool of China or the Chinese Communist Party,” the executive remarked. “Divestment doesn’t address the fundamental concerns that I have heard, as a change in ownership would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access. This is not an issue of nationality.”