For TikTok to continue operating in the United States, its representatives will need to convince lawmakers that it does not pose a considerable security threat to American citizens. To make that point, the ByteDance-owned platform is going on a PR offensive. It invited journalists to check out the TikTok Transparency Center in Los Angeles, which offers details about the titular app’s operations.
TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas, who spoke to reporters at the tour, said that the Center provides “unprecedented levels of transparency.” At different rooms in the facility, visitors can check out the setups used by TikTok moderators, learn about the making of the For You Page, and inspect the app’s source code. (Anyone who wants to enter that room has to sign an NDA first.) Attendees used phrases like “charm offensive” and “virtual signaling” to describe the experience.
“We have to build a trusted platform, one that ensures the safety and security of all of our users globally,” Pappas said. “When you think about trust and transparency, you really can’t have one without the other.”
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TikTok first announced its plan to open Transparency Centers back in 2020. The facilities were supposed to open their doors in May of that year, but the COVID-19 pandemic put the kibosh on that plan. The L.A. Transparency Center is the first such facility to invite in guests.
The timing of the Transparency Center tour makes TikTok’s intentions clear. The app is looking to put a positive spin on its operations so that it can successfully complete Project Texas, a planned deal with the U.S. government. Meanwhile, its opponents are expected to vote this month on a nationwide ban — and TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew will address a Congressional committee in March.
To address critics and draw attention away from its shadier dealings, TikTok has displayed multiple forms of openness. It recently admitted that it has the ability to “heat up” videos so that they appear on more For You Pages. That transparency is a stark contrast to TikTok’s previous public relations, exemplified by Pappas’ tight-lipped appearance in front of Congress last year.
More info about TikTok’s transparency measures can be found here.