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TikTok Hires Law Firm to Review Moderation Policies Amid Criticism

October 18, 2019, 10:14 PM UTC

Buzzy video app TikTok is updating its moderation and data collection policies following criticism of its Chinese ownership and how it handles the privacy of its mostly young users. 

The app, which lets its tens of millions of users upload short videos and then add music to them, has hired law firm K&L Gates to overhaul how it handles child safety, hate speech, misinformation, and bullying. The review will involve input from third-party experts, including former Reps. Bart Gordon and Jeff Denham, to make the service more transparent with users. 

“To do this right, we will leverage a combination of internal and external resources to help ensure that TikTok is well prepared to serve our users and community effectively and responsibly,” TikTok’s general manager in the U.S. Vanessa Pappas said in a statement.

The app, owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been caught up in a broader conversation around China and censorship. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called for an investigation into possible censorship on the app. And Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg accused TikTok of censoring protests in Hong Kong, something the Chinese social media app denied.

Additionally, TikTok has caught flak over its data practices. In February, the Federal Trade Commission fined TikTok $5.7 million over allegations it collected and mishandled data from minors.

TikTok’s review comes as fellow social media companies Facebook and Twitter face intense criticism for how they handle misinformation.