As TikTok gears up for its latest fight to not get banned in the United States, the company is again trying to increase transparency around how it operates. TikTok revealed an updated set of community guidelines, the sweeping set of rules that dictates what creators are allowed to post on its platform. The changes come just days ahead of CEO Shou Zi Chew’s first-ever Congressional appearance, where he will be grilled about allegations TikTok is a threat to national security.
The company has been on a charm offensive to fend off these claims, and has recently made efforts to demystify its algorithm, policies and moderation practices. Likewise, the newly updated community guidelines, set to take effect next month, contain more details about the platform’s rules and how it enforces them.
Though TikTok calls it “the most comprehensive updates to our Community Guidelines to date,” many of the actual changes are tweaks to existing policies rather than completely new or rewritten guidelines. One notable exception is that the new guidelines include an entire section dedicated to AI-generated and “synthetic media.” While the company first came out with rules banning misleading manipulated media ahead of the 2020 presidential election, the updated guidelines are much more explicit about how Ai-generated content can be used on the platform.
“Synthetic media or manipulated [media] that shows realistic scenes must be clearly disclosed,” the new guidelines state, “This can be done through the use of a sticker or caption, such as ‘synthetic,’ ‘fake,’ ‘not real,’ or ‘altered.’” The rules also note that synthetic media of “any real private figure” is prohibited and that AI generated content showing public figures, like a celebrity, cannot be used for political or commercial endorsements.
Of course, TikTok is facing much bigger issues right now than the clarity of its community guidelines. Federal officials have told parent company ByteDance that TikTok could face a total ban in the United States if the Chinese firm doesn’t sell its stake in the app. Meanwhile, the company argued that a ban would hurt its 150 million US users, including small businesses and creators.