TikTok's Great Video Cleanup as 4 Million Videos Vanish!

TikTok recently revealed that it took a broom to its platform, sweeping away four million "violent" videos in the European Union during September. Yes, you read that correctly - four million! That's a figure that would make any math professor scratch their head.

Thanks to the EU's new Digital Services Act, TikTok made its grand entrance into the world of transparency reports with this spectacular cleanup operation. But before we get into the details, remember that TikTok has a small army of 6,125 content moderators in the EU. I'm sure you had no idea scrolling through cat videos could be a full-time job, right?

What exactly is the Digital Services Act (DSA) all about? It's like the EU's secret weapon against online behemoths. They're yelling at platforms like TikTok, "Clean up your act or we'll clean out your bank account!" Fines of up to 6% of global turnover are on the table for those who violate the DSA's rules. Ouch.

TikTok is not alone in this situation. The EU is scrutinizing the big boys club, which includes Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter (or X as they're now known), Bing, LinkedIn, the AppStore, AliExpress, and even Wikipedia. What a crammed investigation room!

Regarding investigations, the European Commission is currently questioning TikTok and its pal Meta, which includes Facebook. The EU wants to know what they're doing to combat the spread of "illegal content and disinformation" after a tragic event involving Hamas and Israel. TikTok's dance challenges are not able to fix everything.

TikTok performed a victory dance, claiming 134 million users in the EU by September 2023. However, in an unusual display of humility, they admitted they were not yet finished. TikTok's report stated they are "proud" of their accomplishments but still have "work to do." It's like saying you've aced your first dance lesson but realize you're still far from being the next Michael Jackson.

So, how do they hunt down those pesky violent videos? Well, TikTok uses a mix of automated systems and human moderators. They "proactively" scan for illegal or harmful content. It's like having robot bouncers patrolling a digital nightclub, ensuring no one's having too much fun.

Interestingly, TikTok is so good at this that they claim to have removed seven times more violative content on their own initiative than users reported. So, if you're thinking of trying to sneak something naughty past TikTok's automated watchdogs, you better think again.

But hold on, there's more! TikTok has created a fantastic in-app channel where users can report suspicious activity. After all, they're following EU regulations. In September, they even put on their reading glasses to examine 17 removal requests from EU governments. That's some high-level content analysis.

Oh, and for those nosy governments looking for user and account information, TikTok received 452 requests from the EU. But don't worry, they aren't just giving your digital secrets to anyone who asks. They're all about privacy and user rights, or at least claim to be.

If you're wondering how quickly TikTok responds to these help signals, they claim the median time is 13 hours. Not bad, right? They seem to have to consider a little thing called "legal obligations" and something about "freedom of expression." Running a social media platform in the EU is a never-ending tightrope act.

Finally, TikTok's report is a show-stopper. Four million infringing videos have vanished, and TikTok must still be finished. With the EU on its tail and the threat of hefty fines, the Chinese-owned platform has its work cut out. Continue scrolling, and remember that your cat video is most likely being scrutinized by a team of digital bouncers and robot moderators.

Photo: DIW

Read next: Google, Microsoft, Anthropic, And OpenAI Launch Mega $10 Million AI Safety Fund To Conduct Responsible AI Research
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