Tag Archives: tiktok

TikTok Debuts New Tools And Technology To Label AI Content

As more creators turn to AI for their artistic expression, there’s also a broader push for transparency around when AI was involved in content creation, TechCrunch reported. To address this concern, TikTok announced today it will launch a new tool that will allow creators to label their AI-generated content and will begin testing other ways to label AI-generated content automatically.

According to TechCrunch, the company says it felt the need to introduce AI labeling because AI content can potentially confuse or mislead viewers. Of course, TikTok had already updated its policy to address synthetic media, which requires people to label AI content that contains realistic images, audio, or video, like deepfakes, to help viewers contextualize the video and prevent the spread of misleading info.

However, TechCrunch reported, outside of the extreme case of using AI to intentionally mislead users, some AI-generated content can toe the line between seeming real or fake. In this gray area, more transparency is generally appreciated by end users so they know whether or not the content they’re viewing has been heavily edited or created with AI.

Billboard reported TikTok announced new tools to help creators label content that was generated by artificial intelligence. In addition, the company said on Tuesday that it plans to “start testing ways to label AI-generated content automatically.”

“AI enables incredible creative opportunities, but can potentially confuse or mislead viewers if they’re not aware content was generated or edited with AI,” the company wrote. “Labeling content helps address this, by making clear to viewers when content is significantly altered or modified by AI technology.”

According to Billboard, in July, President Biden’s administration announced that seven leading AI companies made voluntary commitments “to help move toward safe, secure, and transparent development of AI technology.”

One key point: “The companies commit to developing robust technical mechanisms to ensure that users know when content is AI generated, such as a watermarking system. This action enables creativity with AI to flourish but reduces the dangers fraud and deception.”

Engadget reported TikTok is rolling out a toolset that lets users label posts that have been created or enhanced by artificial intelligence. This move comes after the social media giant added a number of filters for video uploads that made heavy use of AI, and an image generator to help create unique backgrounds.

According to Engadget, the filters are being renamed to make it clearer which ones rely on generative AI to further assist with labeling. Moving forward, these filters will have “AI” in the name somewhere.

The new labels aren’t exclusive to TikTok approved filters, Engadget reported. You can slap the label on any content that’s been completely generated or significantly edited in AI, no matter where the content has been sourced from.

In my opinion, I think it is a good idea for TikTok to enforce the labeling of AI-content that has been posted to their platform. The labels should be clear enough to make it easy for viewers to understand that what they are seeing has been created by, or enhanced with, AI.

European Regulators Fine TikTok $368M Over Failure To Protect Data of Young Users

European authorities have found that Twitter had violated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules when it comes to how it processes younger users’ personal data. Along with this decision, the regulator has revealed that it has slapped the social network with a €345 million ($368 million) fine, Engadget reported.

As the regulating body where TikTok is headquartered and where its first data center is located, the Irish Data Protection Commission investigated whether TikTok adhered to its privacy protection obligations for users between 13 and 17 years old between July 31 and December 31, 2020.

According to Engadget, the regulator found that TikTok allowed child users’ accounts to be paired with adult users’, without verifying whether that person is their parent or guardian. It even allowed that adult user to enable direct messaging for both of them, when the feature shouldn’t be available for the underage user.

The Guardian reported that the Irish data watchdog, which regulates TikTok across the EU, said the Chinese-owned video app had committed multiple breaches of GDPR rules.

According to The Guardian, the regulator found TikTok had contravened GDPR by: placing child users’ accounts on a public setting by default; allowing public comments on those accounts; not checking whether an adult given access to a child’s account on a “family pairing” scheme was a parent or guardian; and not properly taking into account the risks posed to under-13s on the platform who were placed in a public setting.

The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) said users aged between 13 and 17 were steered through the sign-up process in a way that resulted in their accounts being set to public – meaning anyone can see an account’s content or comment on it – by default. It also found that the “family paring” scheme, which gives an adult control over a child’s account settings, did not check whether the adult “paired” with the child user was a parent or guardian.

The DPC ruled that TikTok, which has a minimum user age of 13, did not properly take into account the risk posed to underage users who gained access to the platform. It said the public-setting-by-default process allowed anyone to “view social media content posted by those users.”

TechCrunch reported that TikTok has been found to have violated the following eight articles of the GDPR: – aka breaches of lawfulness, fairness and transparency of data processing; data minimization; data security; responsibility of the controller; data protection by design and default; and the rights of the the subject (including minors) to receive clear communications about data processing; and to receive information on receipts of their personal data.

A TikTok spokesperson sent TechCrunch this statement:

“We respectfully disagree with the decision, particularly the level of the fine imposed. The DPC’s criticisms are focused features and settings that were in place three years ago, and that we made changes to well before the investigation even begun, such as setting all under 16 accounts to private by default.”

In my opinion, it sounds to me like TikTok is trying to absolve itself in the public eye by claiming that the features and settings in its app – that could potentially have harmed children and young teens – had changes made to it. That might be so, but it isn’t going to get TikTok out of having to pay the fine.

New York City Bans TikTok On Government-Issued Devices

New York City becomes the latest government to issue new rules banning TikTok, a measure meant to ward off potential security threats from China, TechCrunch reported.

According to TechCrunch, the state of New York also issued its own ban against TikTok on government devices in 2020. Many other states have issued their own bans in recent years, including New Jersey, Ohio, Texas, and Georgia.

The U.S. House of Representatives banned the use of TikTok on government devices in December. Earlier this year, the Biden administration escalated its own pressure campaign against the app in an effort to force TikTok to part ways with its Chinese ownership.

In May, Montana governor Greg Gianforte signed a law that bans TikTok in the state, effective starting in 2024. Unlike other state-level action, the ban is not limited to government-issued devices and would also limit normal users’ access to the popular app.

The Verge reported New York City is banning TikTok from city-owned devices and requiring agencies to remove the app within the next 30 days.

According to The Verge, the directive issued Wednesday comes after a review by the NYC Cyber Command, which a city official said that TikTok “posed a security threat to the city’s technical networks.” Staring immediately, city employees are barred from downloading or using the app and accessing TikTok’s website from any city-owned devices.

“While social media is great at connecting New Yorkers with one another and the city, we have to ensure that we are always using these platforms in a secure manner,” a New York City Hall spokesperson said in a statement to The Verge Wednesday. “NYC Cyber Command regularly explores and advances proactive measures to keep New Yorkers’ data safe.”

Engadget reported that NYC Cyber Command, a subset of the Office of Technology and Innovation, spurred the decision after reporting to the city that TikTok posed a security threat. “NYC Cyber Command regularly explores and advances proactive measures to keep New Yorkers’ data safe, a City Hall spokesperson said. “As part of ongoing efforts, NYC Cyber Command determined that the TikTok application posed a security threat to the city’s technical networks and directed its removal from city-owned devices.”

Politico reported some background on this situation, noting that New York City is relatively late to the game. More than 30 states have barred employees from using TikTok on government devices, including the state of New York, which quietly adopted the policy in 2020.

Personally, I think it is a good idea to ban TikTok from government devices, because it could potentially be a security risk. That said, I don’t see why Montana decided to ban TikTok from the phones of people who are not part of the government. I think the state went to far with that.

Texas TikTok Ban Challenged By Lawsuit From University Study

A coalition representing faculty at Texas public universities is suing Gov. Greg Abbott and other officials over the state’s ban on TikTok on government-issued devices, effective next year, NBC News reported. The ban, they say in the lawsuit, will prevent faculty members from using the platform to teach and conduct research in an academic capacity.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday, by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, a free speech advocacy group, on behalf of the Coalition for Independent Technology Research, a organization that advocates for research on technology’s impact on society.

“Banning public university faculty from studying and teaching with TikTok is not a sensible or constitutional response to concerns about data-collection and disinformation,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, in a press release.

NBC News also reported that that TikTok was banned from federal government-owned or issued devices in December 2022, with some exceptions, in the wake of growing security concerns over claims of Chinese government surveillance through the app.

According to NBC News, the app has been under scrutiny from lawmakers on a federal level. In May, Montana became the first state to ban TikTok from operating in the state.

Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University posted a press release that includes the following:

The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed suit today on behalf of the Coalition for Independent Technology Research asserting that Texas’s TikTok ban, initially imposed by Texas Governor Greg Abbott last year, violates the First Amendment. The ban requires all state agencies, including public universities, to bar employees from downloading or using TikTok on state-owned or -issued devices or networks, as well as on personal devices used to conduct state business. The lawsuit challenges the ban’s application to public university faculty, asserting that it comprises academic freedom and impedes vital research.

“Banning public university faculty from studying and teaching with TikTok is not a sensible or constitutional response to concerns about data-collection and disinformation,” said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute. “Texas mush pursue its objectives with tools that don’t impose such a heavy burden on First Amendment rights. Privacy legislation would be a good place to start.”

Engadget reported that the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University filed the lawsuit in the name of the Coalition for Independent Technology Research, an academic research advocacy group the Texas professors are members of. The lawsuit names Governor Greg Abbott and 14 other state and public education officials as defendants. “The government’s authority to control their research and teaching… cannot survive First Amendment scrutiny,” the complaint says.

According to Engadget, one example cited by the plaintiffs is Jacqueline Vickery, Associate Professor in the Department of Media Arts at the University of North Texas, who studies and teaches how young people use social media for expression and political organizing. “The ban has forced her to suspend research projects and change her research agenda, alter her teaching methodology, and eliminate course materials,” the complaint reads. “It has also undermined her ability to respond to student questions and to review the work of other researchers, including as part of the peer-review process.”

Personally, I wonder how many states are going to ban TikTok from the phones of their Senators and Congresspeople. To me, I think that the educators who are using TikTok for research should not be prevented from continuing their study.

Montana Lawmakers Approve Statewide Ban on TikTok

Montana lawmakers on Friday approved a first-of-its-kind bill to ban TikTok across the state, setting the state for future court battles that could determine the fate of the popular, Chinese-owned social-media app in the U.S., The Wall Street Journal reported.

The Montana House voted 54-43 to send the bill to Gov. Greg Gianforte’s desk. The governor’s office declined to say whether he would sign the bill but noted Mr. Gianforte had previously banned TikTok on government-issued devices and urged the state university system to do the same.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the bill said the ban would go into effect on Jan. 1, 2024. It would prohibit TikTok, owned by Beijing-based ByteDance Ltd., from operating within the state, and would also bar app stores from offering TikTok within the state. It would fine any entity violating this law $10,000 per violation. It is unclear how some elements of the legislation would be enforced.

Once the governor receives the bill, he has 10 days to act on it before it automatically becomes law.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the bill’s authors ahead of the vote said they expect legal challenges that could ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court should Mr. Gianforte sign the legislation.

Critics including the American Civil Liberties Union said the bill amounts to censorship and violates free-speech rights protected under the First Amendment.

NPR reported that Montana has become the first state to approve a bill that would ban TikTok over the possibility that the Chinese government could request Americans’ data from the widely popular video-streaming app.

The GOP-controlled Montana House of Representatives sent the bill on Friday to Republican Gov. Greg Gianforte, who can now sign the measure into law. If enacted, the ban in the state would not start until January 2024.

According to NPR, a federal court challenge from TikTok is expected before then, likely teeing up a legal brawl that supporters of the law in Montana say could eventually wind up in front of the Supreme Court.

Brooke Oberwetter, a TikTok spokesperson, said the bill’s backers have admitted that there is “no feasible plan” for putting the TikTok ban in place, since blocking downloads of apps on any one individual state would be almost impossible to enforce. Oberwetter said the bill represents the censorship of Montanans’ voices.

The ACLU, which has called the move a violation of free speech rights that “would set an alarming precedent for excessive government control over how Montanans use the internet.”

Gizmodo reported that by approving the nation’s first TikTok ban, Montana may have just given a green light to Republican lawmakers across the country to push forward with their own copycat bills. If that happens, TikTok may have no choice but to agree to a forced spinoff of its US business currently favored by the Biden Administration.

Personally, I think this whole thing is a mess. It seems impossible for app stores to exclude TikTok from people who live in Montana. There is no way to be certain what the Supreme Court would have to say about statewide TikTok bans. This self-made problem seems unsolvable.

Montana Plans To Ban TikTok

Lawmakers in Washington are pushing for an outright ban of TikTok on American soil. Montana might beat them to it, The New York Times reported.

The state’s legislature is further along than any other body in the United States to passing a Ban of the popular Chinese-owned video app, which has faced scrutiny for whether it is handling sensitive data about Americans to Beijing. A Montana bill to block the app was introduced in February, and the State Senate approved it last month. The State House, where the bill has a strong chance of passing after two more votes, is scheduled to consider it on Thursday.

According to The New York Times, the proposal has encountered obstacles. A major internet provider said it could not block TikTok in Montana, prompting lawmakers to rewrite the legislation. A trade group funded by Apple and Google, which operate the app stores that would be forbidden to carry the app, also declared that it was impossible for the companies to prevent access to TikTok in a single state.

The New York Times also reported that TikTok has pushed its users to oppose the legislation by calling and emailing Montana’s Republican governor, Greg Gianforte. A spokeswoman for Mr. Gianforte said he would “carefully consider any bill the Legislature sends to his desk” and noted that he had already banned TikTok on state devices.

The fight in Montana is a preview of what the United States might confront at a national level if lawmakers or the White House tries to enact a nationwide ban of TikTok. Even if legislation disallowing the app is passed, The New York Times wrote, carrying out a ban is technologically difficult and would invoke companies across the digital economy.

Montana State Representative, Zooey Zephyr, a Democrat, said in an interview that it was possible that TikTok users could disguise their location to maintain access to the app even after a ban, which could also be hard to enforce in border towns where internet connections may involve cellular towers in another state.

NBC News reported that leading human rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have long been critical of the Chinese government and its policies. But the groups are lining up against a proposed U.S. TikTok ban, despite the fact that the app’s parent company is Chinese, saying that eliminating a major platform for public expression won’t fix Beijing’s civil rights record or secure American’s privacy.

According to NBC News, the American Civil Liberties Union has used their TikTok account to answer users’ questions about the proposed ban and urged them to reach out to members of Congress to protest HR 1153, a House bill that would impose new restrictions on TikTok and other social media companies around how Americans’ personal data is handled.

In a Pew survey released last week, the largest share, 46%, of young Americans ages 18 to 29 opposed a ban. Just 29% of that demographic said they supported a ban and 24% weren’t sure. By comparison, roughly half of U.S. adults overall said they wanted TikTok banned, with 22% opposed and 28% undecided.

Personally, I don’t use TikTok. However, it is clear that many other people – especially young people – do use it. I was surprised to see that various human rights organizations are in favor of preventing a ban on TikTok, considering that the app is made by a Chinese company.

TikTok Refreshed Its Community Guidelines

TikTok posted “Helping creators understand our rules with refreshed Community Guidelines”. It was written by Julie de Bailliencourt, Global Head of Product Policy, TikTok.

Today we are refreshing our Community Guidelines. These are the rules and standards for being part of the TikTok community, which is now more than 150 million people in the United States and more than 1 billion worldwide. These rules apply to everyone and everything on our platform.

As part of this, for the first time, we’re sharing TikTok’s Community Principles to help people understand our decisions about how we work to keep TikTok safe and build trust in our approach. These principles are based on our commitment to uphold human rights and aligned with international legal frameworks.

These principles guide our decisions about how we moderate content, so that we can strive to be fair in our actions, protect human dignity, and strike a balance between freedom of expression and preventing harm…

Advancing our rules for how we treat synthetic media, which is content created or modified by AI technology;

Adding ‘tribe’ as a protected attribute in our hate speech and hateful behavior policies;

More detail about how to work to protect civic and election integrity, including our approach to government, politician, and political party accounts.

TikTok also laid out the four pillars of their approach to moderation:

  • Remove violative content;
  • Age-restrict mature content so it is only viewed by adults (18 years or older). (As a reminder, this content much still abide by our Community Guidelines);
  • Make content ineligible for recommendation in the For You feed that isn’t appropriate for a broad audience;
  • Empower our community with information tools and resources to stay in control of their experience

TechCrunch reported: The updated guidelines, which will go into effect on April 21, come as TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is slated to appear before Congress on March 23 amid growing security concerns. 

According to TechCrunch, as part of the updated guidelines, synthetic or manipulated media that shows realistic scenes must be clearly disclosed. The company said this can be done through the use of a sticker or caption, such as “synthetic,” “fake,” “not real” or “altered.”  TikTok notes that although it welcomes the creativity the AI unlocks, the technology can make it difficult to distinguish between fact and fiction, which can lead to risks.

The Hill reported that last week, the Biden administration said it would ban the app in the U.S. if TikTok’s Chinese-based parent company, ByteDance, did not sell its stake to an American company. 

According to The Hill, during a briefing call on Monday, Republican Congressional aides highlighted talking points they think the company may use to defend itself against criticism regarding the app.  They also expect Chew to argue against banning the app because of its popularity.

Considering all of this, it seems to me that there is nothing CEO Shou Zi Chew can say that would change the minds of the Biden administration, the security agencies, or Congress. Perhaps the solution is to ban TikTok. It could make room for an American company to create something similar.