TikTok removed more than 49 million videos in six months for…

TikTok deleted almost 50MILLION videos in just six months and received 500 legal requests for user data from governments around the world

  • A quarter of the offending videos broke rules on adult nudity and sexual activity
  • Another 25 per cent violated the video app’s policies over the safety of children 
  • 98 per cent were removed before they were reported by the video app’s users

TikTok removed more than 49 million videos in the second half of last year, the social media site’s latest transparency report has revealed.

The popular video sharing app, which went down for thousands of users yesterday, said more than 98 per cent of the offending videos were removed before they were reported by users. 

Around a quarter of the removed videos broke rules on adult nudity and sexual activities and another quarter were taken down for violating rules round the safety of minors.

The deleted videos accounted for ‘less than one per cent’ of all the videos created in the app during the time period, from July 1 to December 31, 2019, TikTok says.

TikTok also said it received 500 legal requests for user information from government agencies in connection with law enforcement investigations in the six months, including 10 made in the UK.  

The popular app lets users make lip-syncing clips, up to 60 seconds in length, to share with their followers

The app, which is owned by Chinese company Bytedance, said the report provides insight into the volume and nature of requests it receives from law enforcement bodies and how it ‘responsibly responds to them’. 

‘Around the world, tens of thousands of videos are uploaded on TikTok every minute,’ the platform said in a blog post.

‘With every video comes a greater responsibility on our end to protect the safety and well-being of our users.

‘As a global platform, we have thousands of people across the markets where TikTok operates working to maintain a safe and secure app environment for everyone.’

The five markets with the largest volumes of removed videos in H2 2019:

India 16,453,360

United States 4,576,888

Pakistan 3,728,162

United Kingdom 2,022,728

Russia 1,258,853

Figures are from a total of 49,247,689 for the six months. 

Of the 49,247,689 removed videos in total, 98.2 per cent were ‘proactively caught and removed’ before a user reported them, while 89.4 per cent were taken down before they received any views. 

Users in India accounted overwhelmingly for the most videos removed by country – 16.4 million – followed by the US (4.5 million), Pakistan (3.7 million), the UK (just over 2 million) and Russia (1.2 million).

TikTok and 58 other Chinese apps were banned in India last month on the basis it posed a ‘threat to the sovereignty’ of the country. 

Before its ban, TikTok had 302 legal requests for user information from the country for the six months – more than any other nation. 

It also had 100 requests for user information from the US, 16 from Japan, 15 from Germany and 10 from both the UK and Norway. 

TikTok said it was currently only able to publish figures on the type of video violation for one month of the period in question because its new content moderation system was only introduced then.

However, it said it would be able to share this data for the full time period of each report in future.

During the month of December, 25.5 per cent of the videos taken down fell under the category of adult nudity and sexual activities. 

Another 24.8 per cent violated minor safety policies, which include content depicting harmful, dangerous, or illegal behaviour by minors, like alcohol or drug use, as well as more serious content, and were removed due to ‘an abundance of caution for child safety’. 

The platform, which allows users as young as 13 to create an account, has previously come under fire for circulating explicit content.  

Content containing illegal activities and regulated goods made up 21.5 per cent of take-downs, while 15.6 per cent violated the app’s suicide, self-harm, and dangerous acts policy. 

Of the remaining videos removed, 8.6 per cent violated violent and graphic content policies, 3 per cent fell under ‘harassment and bullying’ and less than 1 per cent contained content that violated policies on hate speech, dangerous individuals and organisations, and ‘integrity and authenticity’. 

The US Army has banned soldiers from using TikTok amid concerns that Chinese-owned app could be collecting American users’ personal data

The platform has come under increased scrutiny in recent weeks because of its Chinese roots, and the ongoing concerns, particularly in the US, over whether links to the country could be a security risk for users.

Earlier this week, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the Trump administration was ‘looking at’ banning Chinese apps such as TikTok.

The video app did not address the issue directly in its transparency report, but said it was ‘committed to taking a responsible approach’ to building its platform.

‘We’re working every day to be more transparent about the violating content we take down and offer our users meaningful ways to have more control over their experience, including the option to appeal if we get something wrong,’ the company said. 

The US Army has already banned its cadets from using the app while in uniform. TikTok has also already been banned among Australian Defence Force personnel over fears about Bytedance’s connections with the Chinese government.  

The app has already been blocked from accessing the internet in Bangladesh and was previously banned for a short period in Indonesia in 2018. 

Earlier in the week, TikTok said it will switch off its app in Hong Kong within days following Beijing’s security crackdown in the city.

The video app said it was was ‘stopping operations of the TikTok app in Hong Kong’ in light of ‘recent events’ – referring to a new security law which critics say will allow the mainland’s Communist Party-controlled courts to punish dissent in Hong Kong. 

In June, the app revealed in a detailed blog post how its video recommendation feed works for the first time.   

The ‘For You’ feed is powered by an algorithm that makes personalised recommendations based on several metrics, including interactions and account settings.

TikTok said it hoped the information provided would answer users’ questions about how recommendations are delivered to their feeds and makes up a broader transparency initiative to improve trust in the app.    

WHAT IS TIK TOK? 

 The Beijing based social network has more than 500 million active users and the company is now worth more than $75 billion (£58 billion)

TikTok is a Chinese social media app where users can live stream, create short videos and music videos and Gifs with a host of functions. 

TikTok’s tagline is ‘Make every second count’.

It was the most downloaded app in the US in 2018 and the world’s fourth most downloaded app in 2018, ahead of Instagram and Snapchat.

TikTok is known in China as Douyin where it was launched in 2016 and then made more widely available around the world in 2017.  

Douyin is still the version of the app used in China, available to download separately to TikTok.

The app was merged with popular music video lip-syncing app Musical.ly, also with headquarters in China. 

Most children use the app to film themselves lip-syncing to chart hits. 

It offers users a raft if colourful modification and editing tools including overlaying music, sound, animated stickers, filters and augmented reality (AR) for creating short videos. 

The Beijing based social network has more than 500 million active users and the company is now worth more than $75 billion (£58 billion).  

How does it work?

Users post videos of themselves and broadcast them on the app.

Anyone can find these videos and post comments on them.

It also allows you to message that person privately.

Some of the most popular videos are watched more than 10 million times.

Each TikTok video is generally 15 to 60 seconds long.

The videos are typically set to music, often showing the user dancing, doing a trick, or lip-syncing.  

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