TikTok will expand its labels on content from state-controlled media, the platform announced on Jan. 18.
From now on, TikTok will add a "state-controlled media" label to accounts "whose editorial output or decision-making process is subject to control or influence by a government." The move, which began to address content in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus, will now expand to loads of other countries.
"Our goal in labeling state-affiliated media is to ensure people have accurate, transparent, and actionable context when they engage with content from media accounts that may present the viewpoint of a government," TikTok wrote in a statement.
TikTok told Mashable that the new countries who will be receiving these labels include Afghanistan, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Mongolia, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Cyprus, Republic of Moldova, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, United States, and Uzbekistan. This could include a TikTok from a president or governmental department, or, in some cases, media outlets that are influenced by the government. For instance, Russia TV covers the majority of the country's territory and is state-owned, so it might receive a label. Any accounts that the government has control over, either financially or editorially, could potentially get a label. TikTok follows YouTube and Meta, two companies that (mostly) do this already.
TikTok said in a press release that it worked with a variety of experts to "ensure people have accurate, transparent, and actionable context when they engage with content from media accounts that may present the viewpoint of a government."
This comes at a time in which TikTok is in a bit of hot water because of privacy concerns centered on the app's ownership by the Chinese company ByteDance. In the U.S., then-president Donald Trump tried — and failed — to ban the app in 2020 due to the fear that the Chinese government could see the app's data. More recently, Congress, the U.S. military, and dozens of U.S. states have successfully banned the use of TikTok on government-issued devices because they still fear that user data — like browsing history and location — could fall into the hands of the Chinese government. Many colleges and universities have followed suit, prohibiting users from using the app on any university-owned device or scrolling through TikTok on the university Wi-Fi.