TikTok could be working on a US clone

TikTok could face being banned in the US. — AFP Relaxnews

TikTok is reportedly working on an American version of its recommendation algorithm. The aim of this project is to counter the US government’s plans for a potential ban of the Chinese application.

TikTok is reportedly exploring the possibility of creating a US-specific feed algorithm, according to US media reports. This American version would operate independently of Douyin, the Chinese version of the application.

This decision comes after the US House of Representatives approved a bill forcing ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, to divest its application within six months, failing which it would be banned in the country.

TikTok's feed algorithm is one of the key factors in its success. It uses artificial intelligence to recommend videos to users based on their interests and past behavior on the app. According to US media reports, the US version of the algorithm is designed to better reflect the cultural preferences and trends of the American market.

However, TikTok has denied this claim. The company's US spokesman, Michael Hughes, told The Verge that this supposed splitting of the source code for American users was “100% false”.

TikTok has long been trying to prove itself to American lawmakers, with initiatives such as Project Texas, for example, a program designed to store the data of American TikTok users in the USA, not in China.

“Project Texas is an unprecedented initiative dedicated to making every US user on TikTok feel safe, providing them with confidence that their data is secure and the platform is free from outside influence,” the firm explains.

“TikTok’s parent company ByteDance was founded by Chinese entrepreneurs ... It is not owned or controlled by any government or state-controlled entity. ... We have created a special purpose subsidiary called TikTok US Data Security (USDS). USDS is tasked with managing all business functions that require access to US user data identified by the US government as needing additional protection (‘protected US user data’) and safeguarding the systems that deliver content on the app in the US to ensure that it is free from foreign manipulation,” explains TikTok.

However, the creation of an American version of the recommendation algorithm could also have negative consequences. TikTok has succeeded in creating a global community of users, who share and discover videos from all cultures and backgrounds. Creating a country-specific feed algorithm could fragment this community and limit the reach of content creators.

A recent US law gave ByteDance until January 25, 2025, to cede control of its app to another company, or face a US ban. The Chinese company has challenged this law, and a US court is expected to examine its complaint and decide on further action this fall. – AFP Relaxnews

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