TikTok announced earlier this year that it is developing a research API to improve access to public and anonymized data about content and activity on its app. The company has now announced that it is ready to release a beta version of its platform research API and has asked members of its Content and Safety Advisory Councils to test an early version of the API.
“To get started, we’ve asked members of our Content and Safety Advisory Councils with expertise in misinformation, violent extremism, hateful behavior, and emerging technologies to test an early version of our platform research API,” TikTok said in a blog post. “They’ll have access to public data as we gather their feedback on usability and the overall experience. We’re dedicated to hearing and incorporating feedback from testers and creating an API that will meet the needs of the scientific community while respecting the privacy of our community.”
TikTok stated at the time of the announcement that researchers currently do not have an easy way to assess content or conduct tests on its platform, which is why it saw the need for a research API.
TikTok is working on a content moderation API besides the platform research API. I will release more information in the coming months, according to the company. Select researchers will evaluate TikTok’s content moderation systems and examine existing content on the app using the moderation system API. Researchers will also be able to upload their own content to see how different content are allowed, rejected, or forwarded to moderators for further review.
TikTok’s update on its research API work comes as FCC commissioner Brendan Carr renews his call to ban the app. This was not Carr’s first time expressing this thought. Carr wrote to Apple and Google in June, calling the app an “unacceptable national security risk” and requesting that it be removed from their app stores after BuzzFeed News reported data irregularities implied by leaked internal communications.