China's TikTok turns to former lawmakers to help with content moderation policies

China's TikTok turns to former lawmakers to help with content moderation policies
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Chinese-owned social media company TikTok has hired two former members of Congress to help develop content-moderation policies in hopes of avoiding the criticisms encountered by bigger firms like Facebook and Twitter, the company announced Tuesday in a blog post.

The two-year-old, increasingly popular short video social network this week brought in former Reps. Bart Gordon (D-Tenn.) and Jeff DenhamJeffrey (Jeff) John DenhamFormer GOP Rep. Walters joins energy company TikTok faces lawmaker anger over China ties US launches national security review of Chinese-owned app TikTok: report MORE (R-Calif.) as part of a team from the law firm K&L Gates that will help develop a detailed content-vetting protocol, according to the publication.

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TikTok’s U.S. general manager, Vanessa Pappas, wrote that the initiative is part of a broader company effort to “increase transparency around our content moderation policies and the practices we employ to protect our community.”

This will help the company 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,” she added.

"We look forward to working closely with Vanessa and the rest of the US team to strengthen content moderation guidelines and implementation while helping to maintain TikTok’s distinctive creative and fun environment,” Denham told Politico in a statement.

TikTok has increasingly sought to distinguish itself from larger networks such as Facebook and Twitter, which have come under fire both by those who accuse them of failing to take action against racism and hate speech that violates terms of service and by conservative media accusing them without evidence of bias against conservatives.

“I joined TikTok at the start of this year because I found the platform's fun and entertaining environment to be a breath of fresh air in an online world that has increasingly migrated toward argument and divisiveness,” Pappas wrote.

The company is also seeking to curry political favor amid standoffs between U.S. lawmakers and Chinese tech and telecom firms. Last week Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioGOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week Republicans warn election results are 'wake-up call' for Trump Paul's demand to out whistleblower rankles GOP colleagues MORE (R-Fla.) called on the federal government to investigate ByteDance, the Beijing firm that owns TikTok, tweeting that evidence suggests TikTok is censoring content the Chinese government objects to.