TikTok to stop using China-based moderators to monitor content overseas

The move is the latest effort by TikTok's owner Bytedance Inc. to distance itself from Chinese-operations concerns

BEIJING -- Popular short-video app TikTok said it would halt using China-based moderators to monitor overseas content and shift that work to those outside of China. The decision will result in the transfer of more than 100 China-based moderators to other positions within the company, according to people familiar with the matter. The move is the latest effort by TikTok's owner Bytedance Inc. to distance itself from concerns about it being a Chinese-operated company. The soaring popularity of TikTok has attracted the attention of some American lawmakers worried about its Chinese roots. TikTok is Bytedance's short-video app for markets outside of China. While much of TikTok's content moderation procedures have been localized over the past year or two -- including in the U.S., where none of its videos are monitored by moderators in China, according to a TikTok spokesman -- some markets such as Germany still rely on human moderators in China to review content.

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US SENATORS SEEK BTO BAN TIKTOK ON GOVERNMENT PHONES OVER SPYING CONCERNS  Bytedance this month told more than 100 China-based content moderators that they will have to find a new position within the company, people familiar with the matter said. While it isn't a layoff, some could end up leaving the company as a result of the restructuring, these people said. These human moderators are a part of the "Trust and Safety" team of Beijing-based Bytedance. Their roles include tagging videos and flagging problematic content, the people said. Many of them speak foreign languages and are familiar with specific foreign cultures, they said.

GET FOX BUSINESS ON THE GO BY CLICKING HERE The "Trust and Safety" team is focused on content moderation and developing internal policies related to content. "We are working to find job options within the company for the China-based employees," said Josh Gartner, a TikTok spokesman. These employees had monitored content for some non-U.S. regions, he said, adding the local teams should take over their role within a few weeks. It is unclear how the shift will affect the level of content-monitoring by the company. U.S. regulators are weighing whether TikTok poses a national security risk because it is owned by Bytedance. Bytedance's 2017 acquisition of the startup Musical.ly, a move key to TikTok's success in the U.S. because of Musical.ly's user base there, is under review by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. for potential national-security risks. Last week, TikTok said it is opening a new facility in Los Angeles in May, called the " transparency center" that would allow outside observers to view how teams at the company moderate content.

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ON FOX BUSINESS Also last week, Bytedance said it is appointing two executives to oversee its business in China, freeing founder and Chief Executive Zhang Yiming to focus on issues in the U.S. and other overseas markets where the company is betting on growth.