Oracle has put TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation models under the microscope to ensure Chinese officials don’t interfere with them. TikTok is moving all U.S. user data it owns to Oracle cloud storage located in the country. The Oracle audit is said to have started last week, when TikTok began routing all new traffic from U.S. users through Oracle’s systems.
A spokesperson told Axios Comments checked TikTok’s algorithm – the The app’s secret sauce — how to bubble content “to ensure that the results are as expected and that the model is not being manipulated in any way.” Engadget has asked Oracle to clarify what it means to be manipulated in this context. In terms of moderation, Oracle will periodically review TikTok’s practices with regard to automated and manual content moderation.
In 2020, the Trump administration tried to force it by selling TikTok to an American company. Former President Donald Trump tentatively approved a deal that would have allowed Oracle and Walmart to run U.S. operations, but that didn’t happen.
Meanwhile, TikTok has pledged to increase transparency as it tries to convince regulators and lawmakers that U.S. user data is safe. CEO Shou Zi Chew wrote in a recent letter to nine Republican senators that TikTok “is working with Oracle to develop new, advanced data security controls that we hope to complete in the near future.”
Senator asked a question about the role that engineers at TikTok parent company ByteDance play in shaping the app’s algorithm. “Bytedance engineers around the world may assist in developing these algorithms, but our solution with Oracle will ensure that the training of the TikTok algorithm takes place only in the Oracle cloud infrastructure, and will also ensure that the algorithms are subject to appropriate third-party security reviews and Verify,” Zhou wrote in his reply.
In June, BuzzFeed News reported that ByteDance Chinese engineers repeatedly accessed non-public data on TikTok’s US users. Those workers can only access such information if “robust cybersecurity controls and authorization approval protocols overseen by our U.S. security team” are in place, Chew said.
The report led the FCC’s top Republican commissioner to urge Apple and Google to remove TikTok from their app stores. Amid the scandal, TikTok’s head of global security stepped down last month.
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