TikTok Unveils ‘Series’ Paywall Feature As Bipartisan Scrutiny Continues to Ramp Up

states ban TikTok
  • Save

states ban TikTok
  • Save
Photo Credit: Solen Feyissa

Despite the introduction of yet another bipartisan bill that would set the stage for a stateside TikTok ban, the video-sharing app is now allowing creators to offer “premium content behind a paywall” with a feature called Series.

Series came to light in a general release today, and the newest piece of federal legislation targeting the ByteDance-owned platform will be formally unveiled at a press conference this afternoon. On the former front, the highly controversial service is billing Series as “a new way for creators to share their stories, talents and creativity as premium content.”

According to TikTok – which just recently debuted a revamped Creator Fund, implemented screentime limits for under-18 users, and launched “Sounds for Business” – each Series can feature a maximum of 80 videos. And in keeping with the company’s long-running effort to pivot from short clips, said videos can span up to 20 minutes apiece.

On the price side, TikTokers “can select how much their Series should cost that best reflects the value of their exclusive content,” the platform relayed. This exclusive content must abide by the service’s community guidelines, TikTok emphasized, and Series is “only available to select creators” at present. Applications to join the program are expected to open “in the coming months,” however.

Notwithstanding the rollout of Series and the other mentioned features and programs, TikTok is continuing to face far-reaching scrutiny over alleged user-data shortcomings and adjacent national-security threats.

To be sure, the last month alone has seen a top Justice Department official advise against using TikTok, which the White House has ordered all federal agencies to block. Meanwhile, a number of U.S. lawmakers are taking aim at the app with legislation, and Canada as well as the European Commission have likewise prohibited TikTok on government devices.

Later today, Senators Mark Warner (D-VA) and John Thune (R-SD) are expected to formally reveal the initially highlighted legislation, which the congressmembers say would enable the commerce secretary to curb the domestic prevalence of tech platforms owned by or based in China, North Korea, Iran, Russia, Cuba, or Venezuela.

Warner expressed his view of the multifaceted threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party in the digital age – and spoke about the bill – during a Fox News Sunday sit down over the weekend.  

“This week, I’ve got a broad, bipartisan bill that I’m launching with my friend John Thune, who’ll be the Republican lead, where we’re going to say, ‘In terms of foreign technology coming into America, we’ve got to have a systemic approach to make sure that we can ban or prohibit it when necessary,’” the Virginia Democrat communicated.

“You got 100 million Americans on TikTok 90 minutes a day – even you guys would like that kind of return, 90 minutes a day. They are taking data from Americans, not keeping it safe. But what worries me more with TikTok is that this can be a propaganda tool – the kind of videos you see would promote ideological issues.

“If you look at what TikTok [known as Douyin in China] shows to the Chinese kids, which is all about science and engineering, versus what our kids see, there’s a radical difference,” continued the senator, whose comments and legislation arrive a little under two weeks before TikTok’s CEO will testify before Congress.