TikTok to open new Transparency Centre in Ireland
Social media platform TikTok has announced it will open a new European Transparency and Accountability Centre in Ireland after the establishment of a similar centre in the US.
TikTok's Irish operations have expanded rapidly in the last year and the Chinese social media company employs about 1,100 in Ireland, after starting off with just 20 people in January 2020.
The new centre announced today will not result in new jobs as it will be staffed by the company's existing workforce here.
The company's expansion in employees mirrors its growing popularity, with TikTok growing from obscurity a few years ago to more than 850 million users by 2020.
But scrutiny of the company has also risen with ongoing questions about its handling of user data, accusations of a connection to Chinese surveillance services and issues around abuse and child protection.
TikTok hopes this new hub will go some way to tackling that as it said it will give people a better idea of what it does to try to keep users safe.
The company said that with more than 100 million people across Europe active on TikTok every month, its teams are focused on maintaining their trust and the trust of policymakers and the broader public.
It said the new centre will provide experts with an opportunity to visit and see first-hand how teams at TikTok go about the "critically important work" of securing its users' safety, data, and privacy.
It said that through this direct observation of its practices, experts will have an opportunity to learn about the company's moderation systems, processes, and policies.
This includes exploring how TikTok uses technology to keep its users safe and how its trained content review teams make decisions about content based on the policies in its guidelines.
The way human reviewers supplement its moderation efforts using technology to help catch potential violations of its policies will also be observed.
"The landscape we operate in is rapidly evolving and it's our hope that visitors will be able to learn more about our work, but importantly, also provide candid feedback about what they see and hear," Cormac Keenan, Head of Trust and Safety at TikTok said.
"No system, policy, or practice is flawless, and we are committed to constant improvement. For example, following meetings with epilepsy experts last year, we listened to feedback and used it to introduce a series of new features to help protect people from photosensitive content," he added.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the new centre will initially operate virtually, and virtual tours will be offered from June 2021.
"We plan to establish the centre in Ireland, and we anticipate that it will be fully operational by 2022. We're looking forward to welcoming experts and we will continue our work to find innovative ways to improve our content moderation, safety, and data security systems," Mr Keenan added.