Chinese video application TikTok, which is owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is set to join the European Union’s voluntary code of conduct in order to combat illegal hate speech online, the European Commission confirmed on Tuesday.
Social media platforms have endured increasing pressure from politicians and governments in order to do more in order to combat online hate speech and disinformation, which has been blamed for fuelling a wave of racist attacks in certain countries.
The code of conduct was set up by the European Commission in May 2016, being a move for tech companies to work with civil society organisations and public authorities in order to tackle online hate speech and remove it once and for all.
The European Commission’s Vice President for values and transparency, Vera Jourova, stated that the new addition to a group who already has Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube and Snapchat, was a step in the right direction.
She stated that “It’s good that TikTok joined the code – a company favoured by young users who are particularly vulnerable to online abuse and illegal hate speech”.
She also added that she expects “TikTok to adhere not only to the Code’s principles, but also fully respect European law when operating on European soil”.
TikTok’s head of trust and safety for EMEA Cormac Keenan stated that TikTok’s “ultimate goal” is to eliminate hate completely.
He added that the company recognises “that this may seem an insurmountable challenge as the world is increasingly polarised,” but stressed that “this shouldn’t stop us from trying”.
TikTok was officially launched for iOS and Android in 2017, thus branching out to most markets outside of mainland China, yet it only became available worldwide in 2018, after merging with Musical.ly.
The app has surged in downloads, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to plenty of people to use their free time to create videos and browse through the application.