TikTok Malaysia has come out denying claims made on the video platform and other social media that certain politicians working with ByteDance were able to control and influence what content goes viral.
In a statement sent out to media today, TikTok has responded to a claim made in a TikTok video by user Yuwana TV, which asserted that there’s a PN politician who worked as a content moderator in ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company. They claim that his politician, as part of TikTok and part of the content moderation team in particular, was able to affect the types of content that went viral. Yuwana TV also gave an anecdote about how his friends who made political content on TikTok were struggling to go viral on the platform, despite occasionally seeing solid views. This video was then reposted onto Twitter, going viral on the social media.
Rahsia kejayaan Perikatan Nasional di TikTok terbongkar. 🤣🤣🤣— Adam Yusuf (@khirariffin) February 27, 2023
Patutlah asyik FP sampai berjuta view.
RT ramai² gais supaya @McmcReact ambil tindakan.
Cc @fahmi_fadzil pic.twitter.com/HRBiCMs90n
TikTok responded by outright denying these claims, stating that their moderators do not have any authority nor are they able to access any forms of promotional tools for content. The company also highlights that they have a quality assurance system in place to ensure that the political and personal opinions of their employees do not affect their work, which includes content moderation. They claim that all content, including political expression, is moderated neutrally based on their community guidelines, and they’ll take action to remove them from user feeds if they are found to be in violation of these guidelines.
Here’s TikTok’s statement in full, by their Head of Public Policy Hafizin Tajudin:
TikTok strongly denies the claims made in a video and a resulting comment made on social media that has since been reshared.
At TikTok, we aim to provide community members with a diverse range of relevant and entertaining content. To achieve this, we do promote a small fraction of videos to help diversify the content experience and introduce celebrities and emerging creators to the TikTok community. However, we do not allow political ads on the platform, which is further strengthened through the changes in the policies for government, politician and political party accounts (GPPPA) that was made last year. To that end, we do not allow paid ads that promote or oppose a candidate, government, current leader, political party or group, or issue at the federal, state, or local level.
Regarding the former employee who served as a content moderator, we want to clarify that our moderators do not have any authority or access to any forms of promotional tools for content. We have a robust quality assurance system in place to ensure that the political or personal opinions of our employees do not affect their work quality and ethics, including when performing content moderation tasks. TikTok’s content moderation decisions are based on a set of clearly defined Community Guidelines and has layers of checks and balances including quality assurance and third-party fact checkers, to uphold safety and ensure fairness in moderation.
Lastly, TikTok addresses content and behaviour that violates our Community Guidelines through a combination of policies, technology and moderation. As such, we moderate all content, including political expression, neutrally based on our community guidelines and will take actions to remove or make them ineligible for the ‘For You’ feed if they are found to be in violation of our community guidelines. We remain committed to our mission of providing a safe and positive experience for our community members to connect and share their creativity,” – Hafizin Tajudin, Head of Public Policy, TikTok Malaysia
The politician in question, Suffi Kamari, has since also responded, stating that while he did work at ByteDance, he had left his role in the company in July 2022. He then went on to serve with the PAS Gombak division in a full time capacity, highlighting in particular that during the last general election period he was not with ByteDance and TikTok anymore.
Boleh rujuk linkedin saya ada tarikh mula dan tarikh akhir perkhidmatan saya.— suffikamari🇲🇾 (@suffikamari) February 28, 2023
2. Semasa tempoh PRU pada Oktober hingga November 2022, saya sudah tidak bekerja di ByteDance.
Suffi added that during his time with ByteDance, he was working with the content moderation team for the Indonesian, Australia and New Zealand market, and not the Malaysian segment. He also reiterates that he did not have any special access that allowed him to control what content on TikTok goes viral. Suffi says he’ll now speak with his lawyers to consider if there’s any need for legal action to be taken.