TikTok adds former lawmakers to help develop content moderation policies

TikTok adds former lawmakers to help develop content moderation policies
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Social media app TikTok on Tuesday announced the hire of two former lawmakers for its team that develops content moderation policies.

Former Reps. Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamLobbying world Harder advances in race to keep California House seat Ex-Rep. Frelinghuysen joins law and lobby firm MORE (R-Calif.) and Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) will be part of a team from law firm K&L Gates assisting the Chinese-owned firm with developing a vetting approach for videos posted on the platform.

They will join a committee of outside experts working with TikTok, one of the most rapidly growing apps on the market, to advise on issues such as children’s safety, hate speech, misinformation and bullying.

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The hires are part of an effort to “increase transparency around our content moderation policies and the practices we employ to protect our community” and develop “an even deeper bench of internal leaders so that we are well prepared to tackle the challenges that our continued rapid expansion will bring,” Vanessa Pappas, TikTok's general manager for the U.S., wrote in a statement.

The 2-year-old app was downloaded 663 million times in 2018 and it may soon begin to receive the scrutiny that other social media giants face from lawmakers and regulators in Washington, given its ties to China.

Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioMnuchin, Schumer in talks to strike short-term relief deal Senators push for changes to small business aid Phase-four virus relief hits a wall MORE (R-Fla.) last week urged regulators to investigate the acquisition of social video platform Music.ly by ByteDance, TikTok's parent company.

"Ample & growing evidence exists that TikTok’s platform for western markets, including the U.S., are censoring content in line with #China’s communist government directives," he tweeted.

Hiring Denham and Gordon is the latest in a series of steps that signal TikTok is bracing for harsher regulation.

In June, ByteDance registered to lobby in the U.S., putting "general issues affecting internet companies" as one of its priorities.

It also hired American law firm Covington & Burling in July to provide advice on tech policy issues.