TikTok wants to veer far away from the soup that Google, Facebook and Twitter are in. While the three social media giants have been accused by governments across the world for affecting election outcomes, TikTok has decided to actively move away from politics.
The company behind the video streaming and editing platform, which goes by the same name, issued a policy statement on Thursday. "We will not allow paid ads that promote or oppose a candidate, current leader, political party or group, or issue at the federal, state, or local level - including election-related ads, advocacy ads, or issue ads," Blake Chandlee, vice president of TikTok's Global Business Solutions, said in a blog post.
The Chinese app is staying away from politics as a matter of policy in a swayed political climate, where even policy decisions are announced on social media.
It also makes a lot of sense. Facebook, Google and Twitter have developed mechanisms over the years to demarcate promoted political content and manage political advertising. TikTok, which is tiny in comparison to these companies has no such mechanism.
The press release makes it a point to reiterate that it is the company's current advertising policy. As it grows big, policies may change. It may have to face concerns regarding censorship, moderation and bias as it gains popularity. For now, staying away from politics seems to be a good decision.
The company hasn't had a blot-free past either. It is under investigation in the UK for safety and data security concerns regarding underage users.
It was fined $5.7 million in the US for breaking Children's Privacy Law.
Being a Chinese app, data storage and protection concerns with the app seem very common. There are also pedophilia-related concerns. According to Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, the company's open messaging platform may allow unknown adults to easily contact underage children.
TikTok has also raised concerns regarding the violation of the General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union.