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TikTok Prepares US Version of Algorithm to Address Political Concerns

TikTok is working on a US-specific recommendation system to address political issues. The algorithm was developed prior to the introduction of a bill requiring the sale of TikTok's US business. The approach entails isolating millions of lines of code and developing a new code base separate from the Chinese version of TikTok.

According to individuals familiar with the situation, the effort is intended to build a version of the app that functions independently of its Chinese parent firm, ByteDance, in order to reassure American politicians who have expressed worries about the app's data security.


The creation of this US-specific algorithm began late last year, long before a bill was proposed in Congress to force the sale of TikTok's US operations. The bill was finally signed into law in April. While there are no current intentions to divest the US assets, separating the source code could pave the way for such a move in the future.


TikTok has repeatedly rejected any intention of selling its assets in the United States, claiming that such a sale is impossible. However, the corporation has not revealed any information about its ambitions for the US-specific algorithm. When asked for comment, TikTok initially declined, but then issued a statement on social media labelling the Reuters piece "misleading and factually inaccurate."


Hundreds of engineers from ByteDance and TikTok in the United States and China are striving to divide the source code. Their objective is to extract millions of lines of code and establish a new code base that is distinct from the Chinese version of TikTok, known as Douyin. The goal is to remove any information related to Chinese users and ensure that the algorithm only works for the US market.


This development sheds light on the technical issues TikTok faces while tackling political threats in the United States. Critics, including President Biden, claim that TikTok's ties to China represent a threat to national security since Beijing may have access to user data. TikTok and ByteDance have filed a lawsuit challenging the rule requiring the app's sale or prohibition by January 19.


While a sale of the app and its algorithms is extremely improbable due to Chinese export-control rules, TikTok's efforts to separate its US operations reflect the company's dedication to independence from its Chinese parent company. The task's intricacy and the necessity to comply with regulatory standards are expected to slow the process, which might take more than a year to accomplish.


When the US-specific algorithm is fully built, TikTok's US operations will be able to run and maintain the recommendation algorithm independently of other areas and Douyin. However, TikTok US's performance may differ from that of the existing app because it will rely on ByteDance's developers in China for upgrades and maintenance.

 
  • TikTok is developing a US-specific recommendation algorithm to address political concerns.

  • The development of the algorithm began before a bill to force a sale of TikTok's US operations was introduced.

  • The process involves separating millions of lines of code and creating a new code base independent of the Chinese version of TikTok.


Source: REUTERS

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