TikTok aims to address US security concerns with new algorithm

TikTok and ByteDance have filed a lawsuit in US federal court to challenge the law forcing a sale or ban of the app.

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TikTok is developing a separate recommendation algorithm for its 170 million US users to address concerns from American lawmakers who are pushing to ban the app. The following action, initiated by ByteDance, TikTok’s Chinese parent company, involves separating millions of lines of code to create an independent US version, potentially paving the way for divestiture of US assets.

The initiative, which predates a bill mandating TikTok’s US operations’ sale, is a response to bipartisan concerns that the app could provide Beijing with access to extensive user data. Despite ByteDance’s legal challenge to the new law, engineers continue to work on the complex and lengthy process of code separation, which is expected to take over a year.

TikTok has stated that selling its US assets is not feasible, citing commercial, technological, and legal constraints. However, the company is exploring options to demonstrate its US operations’ independence, including possibly open-sourcing parts of its algorithm. The success of this separation project could impact TikTok US’s performance, which currently relies on ByteDance’s engineering resources.