TikTok is bringing in external experts in Europe in fields such as child safety, young people’s mental health and extremism to form a Safety Advisory Council to help it with content moderation in the region.
The move, announced today, follows an emergency intervention by Italy’s data protection authority in January — which ordered TikTok to block users it cannot age verify after the death of a girl who was reported by local media to have died of asphyxiation as a result of participating in a black-out challenge on the video-sharing platform.
The social media platform has also been targeted by a series of coordinated complaints by EU consumer protection agencies, which put out two reports last month detailing a number of alleged breaches of the bloc’s consumer protection and privacy rules — including child safety-specific concerns.
“We are always reviewing our existing features and policies, and innovating to take bold new measures to prioritise safety,” TikTok writes today, putting a positive spin on needing to improve safety on its platform in the region.
“The Council will bring together leaders from academia and civil society from all around Europe. Each member brings a different, fresh perspective on the challenges we face and members will provide subject matter expertise as they advise on our content moderation policies and practices. Not only will they support us in developing forward-looking policies that address the challenges we face today, they will also help us to identify emerging issues that affect TikTok and our community in the future.”
It’s not the first such advisory body TikTok has launched. A year ago it announced a U.S. Safety Advisory Council, after coming under scrutiny from U.S. lawmakers concerned about the spread of election disinformation and wider data security issues, including accusations the Chinese-owned app was engaging in censorship at the behest of the Chinese government.
But the initial appointees to TikTok’s European content moderation advisory body suggest its regional focus is more firmly on child safety/young people’s mental health and extremism and hate speech, reflecting some of the main areas where it’s come under the most scrutiny from European lawmakers, regulators and civil society so far.
TikTok has appointed nine individuals to its European Council (listed here) — initially bringing in external expertise in anti-bullying, youth mental health and digital parenting; online child sexual exploitation/abuse; extremism and deradicalization; anti-bias/discrimination and hate crimes — a cohort it says it will expand as it adds more members to the body (“from more countries and different areas of expertise to support us in the future”).
TikTok is also likely to have an eye on new pan-EU regulation that’s coming down the pipe for platforms operating in the region.
EU lawmakers recently put forward a legislative proposal that aims to dial up accountability for digital service providers over the content they push and monetize. The Digital Services Act, which is currently in draft, going through the bloc’s co-legislative process, will regulate how a wide range of platforms must act to remove explicitly illegal content (such as hate speech and child sexual exploitation).
The Commission’s DSA proposal avoided setting specific rules for platforms to tackle a broader array of harms — such as issues like youth mental health — which, by contrast, the U.K. is proposing to address in its plan to regulate social media (aka the Online Safety bill). However the planned legislation is intended to drive accountability around digital services in a variety of ways.
For example, it contains provisions that would require larger platforms — a category TikTok would most likely fall into — to provide data to external researchers so they can study the societal impacts of services. It’s not hard to imagine that provision leading to some head-turning (independent) research into the mental health impacts of attention-grabbing services. So the prospect is the platforms’ own data could end up translating into negative PR for their services — i.e. if they’re shown to be failing to create a safe environment for users.
Ahead of that oversight regime coming in, platforms have increased incentive to up their outreach to civil society in Europe so they’re in a better position to skate to where the puck is headed.
Update: Reached for comment on TikTok’s advisory council, BEUC, the European consumer association that has coordinated recent consumer and data protection complaints against TikTok, sent us this statement, attributed to its deputy DG, Ursula Pachl: “We can only encourage TikTok to get advice from experts about how to better protect its users, especially children. TikTok’s foremost concern should however be to ensure that it takes all measures to comply with EU and national laws.”
Early Stage is the premiere “how-to” event for startup entrepreneurs and investors. You’ll hear firsthand how some of the most successful founders and VCs build their businesses, raise money and manage their portfolios. We’ll cover every aspect of company-building: Fundraising, recruiting, sales, legal, PR, marketing and brand building. Each session also has audience participation built-in — there’s ample time included in each for audience questions and discussion.
Google December Product Reviews Update Affects More Than English Language Sites? via @sejournal, @martinibuster
Google’s Product Reviews update was announced to be rolling out to the English language. No mention was made as to if or when it would roll out to other languages. Mueller answered a question as to whether it is rolling out to other languages.
Google December 2021 Product Reviews Update
On December 1, 2021, Google announced on Twitter that a Product Review update would be rolling out that would focus on English language web pages.
Our December 2021 product reviews update is now rolling out for English-language pages. It will take about three weeks to complete. We have also extended our advice for product review creators: https://t.co/N4rjJWoaqE
— Google Search Central (@googlesearchc) December 1, 2021
The focus of the update was for improving the quality of reviews shown in Google search, specifically targeting review sites.
A Googler tweeted a description of the kinds of sites that would be targeted for demotion in the search rankings:
“Mainly relevant to sites that post articles reviewing products.
Think of sites like “best TVs under $200″.com.
Goal is to improve the quality and usefulness of reviews we show users.”
Continue Reading Below
Google also published a blog post with more guidance on the product review update that introduced two new best practices that Google’s algorithm would be looking for.
The first best practice was a requirement of evidence that a product was actually handled and reviewed.
The second best practice was to provide links to more than one place that a user could purchase the product.
The Twitter announcement stated that it was rolling out to English language websites. The blog post did not mention what languages it was rolling out to nor did the blog post specify that the product review update was limited to the English language.
Google’s Mueller Thinking About Product Reviews Update
Product Review Update Targets More Languages?
The person asking the question was rightly under the impression that the product review update only affected English language search results.
Continue Reading Below
But he asserted that he was seeing search volatility in the German language that appears to be related to Google’s December 2021 Product Review Update.
This is his question:
“I was seeing some movements in German search as well.
So I was wondering if there could also be an effect on websites in other languages by this product reviews update… because we had lots of movement and volatility in the last weeks.
…My question is, is it possible that the product reviews update affects other sites as well?”
John Mueller answered:
“I don’t know… like other languages?
My assumption was this was global and and across all languages.
But I don’t know what we announced in the blog post specifically.
But usually we try to push the engineering team to make a decision on that so that we can document it properly in the blog post.
I don’t know if that happened with the product reviews update. I don’t recall the complete blog post.
But it’s… from my point of view it seems like something that we could be doing in multiple languages and wouldn’t be tied to English.
And even if it were English initially, it feels like something that is relevant across the board, and we should try to find ways to roll that out to other languages over time as well.
So I’m not particularly surprised that you see changes in Germany.
But I also don’t know what we actually announced with regards to the locations and languages that are involved.”
Does Product Reviews Update Affect More Languages?
While the tweeted announcement specified that the product reviews update was limited to the English language the official blog post did not mention any such limitations.
Google’s John Mueller offered his opinion that the product reviews update is something that Google could do in multiple languages.
One must wonder if the tweet was meant to communicate that the update was rolling out first in English and subsequently to other languages.
It’s unclear if the product reviews update was rolled out globally to more languages. Hopefully Google will clarify this soon.
Google Blog Post About Product Reviews Update
Google’s New Product Reviews Guidelines
John Mueller Discusses If Product Reviews Update Is Global
Watch Mueller answer the question at the 14:00 Minute Mark
Martech failure? 50% say loyalty programs don’t offer much value
Daily Search Forum Recap: May 19, 2022
Meta Adds Updated Congressional District Data to Location Targeting Options for Ads
Looking to replace your POTS lines? Digital alternatives are here
Create a B2B GTM strategy that buyers, execs and revenue teams love
What It Is & How It Works
Snapchat Launches New Option to Display eBay Listings in Snaps
10 Positive Feedback Examples Your Employees Need to Hear
The Industry Mourns The Loss Of Bill Slawski
LinkedIn Adds Live Captions for Audio Events, Custom URL Listings on Creator Profiles
LinkedIn Shares New Insights into the Brand Benefits of Adopting Sustainability Best Practices [Infographic]
Google Ads Automated Rules Conditions Not Sticking
Six Ways to Adjust Google Ads to Save Budget
How to Win Potential Consumers with Customer Journey Mapping on Google
Google Search With Larger Images Again On Desktop Results
Daily Search Forum Recap: May 2, 2022
How Does Google Multisearch Affect SEO?
Where To Invest In SEO For Maximum Impact
Start an Affiliate Marketing Side Hustle to Bring in Passive Income
SEARCHENGINES4 days ago
Google Search Console Performance Reports Logs Additional Desktop Features
PPC3 days ago
Three Key Moments You Can’t Miss at Hero Conf London 2022
SEO3 days ago
Google Ads Makes Automation Easier With Scripts Updates
MARKETING3 days ago
What is Conversation Intelligence and Facts you didnt know About the Software?