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TikTok’s APAC safety advisory council will advise on issues like child safety, hate speech, misinformation, and bullying

Earlier this week, TikTok set up a safety advisory council for the APAC region, to advise on issues such as online safety, child safety, digital literacy, mental health and human rights. The council will also report on observations and submit formal recommendations related to these issues. It has seven founding members — including one Indian — but TikTok said that it will include more members from others markets in the APAC region in the future.

After the announcement, MediaNama reached out to TikTok to understand how the members were selected, the council’s main responsibilities, and whether it will engage with the Indian government about the ban on TikTok. Following are TikTok’s emailed responses to our questions:

MediaNama: How did TikTok select members of the Council? How long did the process take, and what qualifications was it looking for in members? 

TikTok: The Council brings together thought leaders from academia, law and government from various sectors in the region, lending us the benefit of a wide variety of perspectives, which reflect the diverse nature of our platform and community. The members will support us in developing forward-looking policies that not only address the challenges we face today, but also identifying existing and emerging issues in the region which affect TikTok’s platforms and users, and develop strategies to tackle these challenges.

Additionally, the purpose of the TikTok Advisory Council is to provide candid and straightforward advice to the TikTok team on issues such as child safety, hate speech, misinformation, and bullying. This group was selected for its diversity of perspective and deep experience in the relevant issues.

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[TikTok didn’t specify how long the process to select candidates took]

MediaNama: TikTok remains banned in India over security concerns. Will the Council try and address the government’s apprehensions? 

TikTok: The council is an Asia Pacific Safety Advisory Council and is responsible for advising on issues related to trust and safety at TikTok. TikTok team in India continues to engage with the government to allay the concerns they have.

MediaNama: What are the Safety Advisory Council’s key responsibilities? Are there any terms? 

TikTok: This group of experts will meet every few months with senior members to discuss various topics and considerations related to content policies. In addition, the Council will have an ongoing dialogue with TikTok leaders to advise on timely needs outside of the regular forums.

Responsibilities of the Council include: 

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  • Advise our internal content and oversight teams on our policies and their potential effects on the community and users in the APAC region.
  • The Council will provide subject matter expertise and advise on TikTok’s content moderation policies and practices to help shape regional and global guidelines.
  • Identify existing and emerging issues affecting our platforms and our users and develop strategies and policy solutions
  • Assess whether our internal content policies are consistent with our Community Guidelines and other external policies and guidelines

The Council members are encouraged to share their unvarnished views about the company and its policies.

[Amitabh Kumar, founder of Social Media Matters, and the only Indian in the council, separately told MediaNama that the first meeting might happen in a month’s time]

MediaNama: Is this similar to Facebook’s oversight board? How much say will the council have over content moderation on TikTok? 

TikTok: While we cannot comment on the competition, we firmly believe this Council will provide constructive, sound and honest advice as TikTok continues to strengthen its content policies in Asia Pacific.

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