back to article TikTok said to be working on US-specific version of its content algorithm for months

Developers for the short video app TikTok have reportedly been working on creating a clone of its content algorithm specifically for use in the US since late last year. The cloned algorithm would be completely separate from the Chinese version of TikTok, running on different servers and not interfacing with data from Chinese …

  1. Snowy Silver badge
    Coat

    Not any better

    Developers for the short video app TikTok have reportedly been working on creating a clone of its content algorithm specifically for use in the US since late last year.

    Is it going to be any less toxic to people played by the algorithm?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not any better

      Perhaps the real reason TikTok is a problem is this. TikTok's US version could push same stuff that Twitter does and then all the furor will die down just as quick as it started.

      1. Snowy Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: Not any better

        The problem could be you have a view on something and in order to keep you watching it shows you things that reenforce that view rather than give you a different point of view so you could make up your own mind. The echo chamber where everyone agrees with you.

        They do not care what your view is only that you consume more!!

        1. DS999 Silver badge

          Re: Not any better

          They do not care what your view is only that you consume more!!

          If the ownership is motivated solely by profit, sure. But what about when they are willing to lose money to push a particular point of view, like Musk with Twitter?

    2. doublelayer Silver badge

      Re: Not any better

      No, it won't, but nobody doing anything here cares about that. The people suggesting to ban it aren't worried about users' mental health, but about Chinese spying/propaganda/whatever other thing they think the Chinese government could do with it. They would like it sold to someone outside of China, but don't care if those people keep the algorithm with any risks to its users that it might have. TikTok, of course, doesn't see a reason to change the purpose of their algorithm either. Either way, that part is not changing.

  2. Zibob Bronze badge

    When.. When the ban is overturned.

    On the basis of the much bandied free speech rules in the constitution, it would appear TikTok is being unfairly banned.

    All the platforms harvest data and have minors in their users, so all should be equally guilty, but no, they pick on TikTok because China!

    Pathetic political sabre rattling.

    Please work on getting TwiXter banned, it is a much larger danger to the public than a few dance videos.

    1. Zolko Silver badge

      Re: When.. When the ban is overturned.

      they pick on TikTok because China

      no, they pick on TikTok because it's non-US. The US killed-off BlackBerry, Nokia and Skype before. And they're going after Risk-V now. USA wants to control Internet ... though I'm not sure why : they can't get the big fish (like Snowden) and only get the cat-video-liking helicopter-mum.

  3. StrangerHereMyself Silver badge

    Won't work

    This is just another ploy to throw the U.S. authorities off their scent. It won't work and won't change the verdict of the TikTok divestiture ruling.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Tik Tok is People!" (for those who remember Soylent Green)

    I doubt that it is Tik Tok's "computer algorithm" that has given them a competitive edge. Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, is required tp employ large numbers of human to monitor content due to the political restrictions imposed by the CCCP. Enjoying economy of scale, Tik Tok uses those same humans, who have social media sensibilities very close to those in the other industrialized countries (except for politics) to add quality curation.

    Of course they use algorithms the same as US social media companies do, but they use a lot more humans - creative humans with human judgment about human tastes to finalize the curation, at 1/8 of the labor cost. US social media companies would never pay for that.

    To enable curation with the human touch to thrive in the US, section 230 would have to be struck down, and social media companies be placed on the same level as media companies. I think it's time to move fast and break things - in this case break the stagnant online monopolies and their soul less media content. That's why I'm in favor of trashing 230. The only entities it protects are the social media companies - not the people who post on them. Of course the internet would fracture and the viral factor would drop by several orders of magnitude - what a shame!

  5. Anomalous Cow Herd

    Surely the issue is that if the TikTok app has access to users' address books, and can map networks of individuals and monitor their behaviour. I would expect even obfuscated identities can be identified by their networks of associated identities in their address books - for instance, lets pretend I have an anonymised TikTok id, but my address book lists my mum and dad's numbers, and my kids numbers - it's not going to be difficult to work out my true identity.

    Potentially the TikTok app can push content to individuals to influence core-beliefs (of course, this happens already with current algorithms to push content to keep you looking) it's not a big leap to go from pushing content for a specific demographic to pushing content to a specific individual.

    Or, even more insidiously, to report back the sort of content individuals are watching, perhaps providing an opportunity for foreign actors to compromise influential individuals binge-watching TikTok content that is inappropriate to their demographic.

    Does TikTok do this already? I've no idea. Could it do this? Yes absolutely. Why would TikTok do this? Make money through advertising, de-stabilise western politics and economies, gain access to intellectual-property, or bribery and corruption - maybe? Why take the risk when you could more easily control it or just close it down.

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