Oracle is now reviewing TikTok algorithms and content moderation practices
from how much do you trust oracle? department
As you may recall, during the Trump administration, after a group of kids on TikTok led Trump to believe that one of his campaign rallies would be massively followed (which was not the case) , Trump decided to calm his anger against TikTok by issuing an almost certainly unconstitutional executive order requiring the owner of TikTok, the Chinese company ByteDance, to sell TikTok to an American company. As a few potential buyers lined up to take the increasingly popular social media company on the cheap (due to its forced-sale nature), White House insiders revealed they would not approve the sale. than if it went to a friend of Donald Trump. (this, of course, is corrupt nonsense, but hey, nobody cares anymore). That left few valuable options, as Trump wouldn’t approve of the sale to the few companies that actually wanted to buy the whole thing: namely Microsoft and Walmart.
Ultimately, Trump wanted the company to turn to his pal Larry Ellison’s Oracle. Of course, there was a problem: Oracle had no use for TikTok as a subsidiary. Oracle does business stuff, not social media. But what Oracle offers is a cloud hosting offering that is at the bottom of the list behind industry leaders like Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, Google and others. So Oracle and the Trump administration concocted…a hosting deal for Oracle.
Basically, Oracle would get TikTok’s US hosting business with vague promises of data privacy protections, while Trump could help out a friend (Ellison) while claiming he actually accomplished something (even if that was not at all what he had originally asked for). Of course, it was just posturing and headlines, so there wasn’t much of the case for a while.
But, with new (somewhat questionable) claims that TikTok’s U.S. data is accessible to ByteDance employees making the news, the company has apparently (two years later) begun to push through the deal and announced in June that all his US data was routed to Oracle.
However, there was more to the original deal, including vague promises that Oracle would help protect this data, so now it appears that Oracle is now “audit” both TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation practices.
It’s unclear exactly what this means in practice – and we’ll remind people that there were reports last year claiming Oracle had Chinese law enforcement customers, which raised at the minus a few questions about its real commitment to protecting Chinese government data. Also worth noting: Oracle has spent years happily trying to undermine virtually all content moderation by funding groups to advocate against Section 230. Oh, and I guess we should mention that, for all the claims that TikTok is controlled by the Chinese government, remember that Oracle debuted… as a CIA project. There’s something richly ironic about the idea that Oracle is somehow a trusted partner here.
Given all of this, what exactly does it mean for Oracle to “audit” TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation? Considering the company doesn’t have the best track record on privacy and has been working for years to undermine content moderation, this is all… just a little odd. Oracle’s explanation is not very clear at all:
The reviews give Oracle visibility into how TikTok’s algorithms present content “to ensure that the results are as expected and that the models have not been manipulated in any way,” the carrier said. speech.
I mean, what does “manipulated” even mean in this sentence? Of course, they are manipulated. Someone wrote the algorithm. If they mean “not manipulated to promote Chinese propaganda” or “not manipulated to remove anti-Chinese content,” then…maybe say that. Because “manipulation” by itself means nothing reasonable here.
There’s nothing in Oracle’s history or experience to suggest the company has any useful insight into how TikTok handles recommendations or content moderation. There are many reasons to think that Oracle might actually be problematic in this role.
The whole setup looks pretty weird and really feels like everyone is making it up as they go. TikTok needs some kind of American oversight to appease people freaking out that a Chinese-owned social media company will succeed in the United States, and Oracle was just there to say it would, in exchange for a lucrative hosting deal for its overdue cloud offering. It also vaguely resembles how the US accuses Chinese companies like Huawei and ZTE of using their technology to spy on people… when that’s exactly what the US government has been doing through Cisco for years.
Also, what kind of precedent does this set? Will we be OK if other countries require their own favorite companies to verify the algorithms and content moderation practices of American companies? Because… it’s going to create quite a mess.
Filed Under: algorithms, audit, china, content moderation, usa
Companies: bytedance, oracle, tiktok