TikTok CEO Mayer meets with EU commissioner about fighting disinformation on the short video app

TikTok logo is seen displayed on a phone screen in this illustration photo taken in Krakow, Poland on November 13, 2019. (Photo by Jakub Porzycki/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

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TikTok’s new chief executive Kevin Mayer spoke to one of the European Union’s top officials on Tuesday about fighting disinformation on the social media platform.

The discussion highlights the Chinese-owned app’s drive to work with regulators amid scrutiny of the platform from authorities, particularly in the U.S. 

EU commissioner Thierry Breton, who is responsible for the bloc’s internal market and shaping digital policy, tweeted that he had a “good conversation” with Mayer.

“TikTok has a role to play against #disinformation, especially in the fight,” he added.

Breton urged major platforms to sign up to the EU’s Code of Practice to “address the spread of fake news & improve transparency.”

The Code of Practice, which was launched in 2018, asks internet firms to take measures to tackle disinformation online. Companies can sign up voluntarily. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla and Twitter have signed up.

TikTok said it has also signed up to the Code of Practice. 

“We’re tackling disinformation by investing heavily in technology and review teams, introducing in-app features like our Covid-19 misinformation reporting function, promoting trusted information from authoritative sources, and developing policies — including the banning of political advertising — to prevent the spread of misinformation,” said a TikTok spokesperson. 

“Industry co-operation and increased transparency are vital in stemming the spread of disinformation online, and as part of signing up to the Code of Practice on Disinformation we look forward to working with the Commission as we continue our efforts to keep TikTok safe.”

Mayer moved from Disney to TikTok in May, a hire that was seen as a move by the short video app to distance itself from its Chinese parent company ByteDance and appease U.S. lawmakers and regulators

Washington is concerned about TikTok’s links to China and censorship on the platform. U.S. regulators have even launched a national security review into the company’s acquisition of social media app 

Mayer’s meeting with Breton highlights the company’s push to show its engaging with regulators. 

For the EU, keeping tabs on major technology firms has been on the agenda for the past few years.

Whether it has been around tax issues or antitrust concerns, European officials have had U.S. technology firms in their sights. Engaging with TikTok shows how the EU thinks the app is now big enough to be a potential concern over disinformation. 

The EU has been at the forefront of regulations around Big Tech, unveiling a landmark data protection law in 2018 and now moving discussions on to how to regulate new technologies like artificial intelligence. U.S. technology executives have been keen to engage on those potential rules given they are the ones who will be affected the most. 

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg had a phone call with Breton in May, while Google CEO Sundar Pichai traveled to Brussels in January. 

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