A Senate committee has asked TikTok for information about extremist content on its platform. The Chinese social media giant’s executives have been asked to detail the firm’s efforts towards identifying and removing extremist content.
Information About Actions to Enforce Terms of Service
In a letter addressed to TikTok, the Senate Homeland Security Committee has demanded information about “what actions have been taken to enforce and comply” with the platform’s terms of service, as well as data regarding how content that is being used to promote extremism and violence is being removed.
The letter was first obtained by The Washington Post, and cites the Capitol riots that took place on January 6 this year, as an example of of a time when extremists had used TikTok’s service to organize. Committee chairperson Sen. Gary Peters has stated that domestic extremists relied on TikTok’s platform to “recruit, organize, and communicate,” adding that the service is being sued to spread messages that support extremists, white supremacists, and even terrorist groups.”
He has gone on to say that the committee is also seeking information on TikTok’s mechanisms for targeted advertising, as well as advertisement content policies.
Questions About Effectiveness and Willingness
He also says that under the current laws, social media platforms generally remain protected from legal liability for content posted by their users. But at the same time, since TikTok is a private firm, it reserves the right to “decide, through policies and user guidelines,” what should and shouldn’t be allowed on its service. While he acknowledges the fact that the company has put in place some guidelines to prevent the spread of extremism and violence, the recent use of the platform to organize extremist activity have resulted in concerns regarding the their effectiveness, as well as TikTok’s own willingness to enforce them.
This comes even as House and Senate Democrats have come up with multiple efforts to gain information about extremism in the States, in light of the January 6 attack on the Capitol following former POTUS Donald Trump’s loss in last years Presidential polls.
Fears of future violence have led to stricter law enforcement, and additional security barriers around the Capitol last month, during a rally in support of jailed defendants who have been accused of crimes connected to January 6. The event, however, failed to garner much attention, with no incidents being caused and the number of attendees being space as compared to the preparations.