Relentlessly popular video app TikTok, created by Chinese company ByteDance, has hired K&L Gates to advise its content moderation policies, the company revealed in a post on its website Wednesday.
The law firm will help TikTok maintain an external advisory board to review moderation policies and better communicate said policies. The hiring comes as TikTok, extremely popular among children and teens, faces criticism for poor content moderation given its userbase.
A recent leak revealed that content involving the Tiananmen Square massacre, Tibet, Hong Kong, the Falun Gong movement, and other content harmful to the Chinese government was removed by the platform. The leaked content guidelines banned most content relating to any political conflict. Videos about many world leaders were to be blocked, except those about Chinese head of state Xi Jinping. Meanwhile, according to The Guardian, instances of sexual content where the subject’s age was unclear were to be treated as if the subject were an adult.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) weighed in as well, asking the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States to review TikTok’s acquisition of Musical.ly, another Chinese-owned app. The acquisition significantly grew TikTok’s user base.
While TikTok’s announcement of its partnership with K&L Gates alludes to the existence of controversy regarding content moderation, the policy makes no reference to China.
At the time of publication, TikTok was in the top 5 most downloaded apps in both Apple’s App Store and Android’s Google Play Store.