TikTok Establishes Content Advisory Council to Better Moderate User Uploads

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photo: Kon Karampelas

TikTok has established the Content Advisory Council, a seven-member group designed to guide and develop the video-sharing app’s user-upload moderation procedures.

In an open statement, TikTok U.S. General Manager Vanessa Pappas outlined the Content Advisory Council’s objectives and long-term goals. The seven current members will eventually be joined by five other “thought leaders who can help us develop forward-looking policies,” though a timetable for the additional Council professionals’ joining wasn’t established.

Five of the CAC’s seven initial members hold prominent positions in universities and law schools throughout America. The council includes deep-fake expert Hany Farid, tech-law expert Mary Anne Franks, mental-health specialist Vicki Harrison, political-communications professional Dan Schnur, and free-speech/content-regulation mainstay Dawn Nunziato, who also serves as the Council’s chair.

The remaining two CAC members — Rob Atkinson and David Ryan Polgar — work for a leading think tank and a prominent tech-awareness organization, respectively.

All who sit on the Content Advisory Council will “provide unvarnished views on and advice around TikTok’s policies and practices” pertaining to content moderation, including political speech, hate speech, and what constitutes inappropriate media.

The CAC’s inaugural meeting is scheduled to take place later this month, but given the recent trend of government-mandated lockdowns, companies’ work-from-home orders, and self-quarantine efforts stemming from the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a postponement appears likely. Alternatively, the opening meeting could be conducted remotely.

ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech company, created TikTok in 2012, and in recent years, the platform has become immensely popular across the globe. TikTok helped facilitate the rise of several well-known songs and artists, including Lil Nas X and his Grammy-winning “Old Town Road,” and music continues to play a prominent role on the app.

However, it hasn’t been all smooth sailing for TikTok. Many politicians (on both sides of the political spectrum) have concluded that the app poses a risk to national security. And last year, the U.S. Army and Navy banned personnel from using TikTok; Australia’s military followed suit.

Earlier this week, it was reported that TikTok moderators had prevented “ugly” users from trending because they feared that their profiles would negatively affect public perception of the platform itself.