‘Our data has never been stored in China,’ TikTok CEO tells TED Talks

The CEO of TikTok dropped into a Ted Talks in Vancouver Thursday to address concerns over data security on his social media platform.

Venerable annual conference provides platform for Shou Chew to explain TikTok's inner workings

A man in a sports coat speaks with his hands raised.

The CEO of TikTok dropped into a Ted Talks in Vancouver Thursday to address concerns over data security on his social media platform.

Shou Zi Chew told Chris Anderson, the head of Ted Talks, that TikTok data has never been stored in China, but it has some legacy data to be deleted on its servers in the United States and Singapore.

"That deletion is a very big engineering effort. So, as I said at the hearing, it's going to take us a while to delete them, but I expect it to be done this year,'' said Chew, referring to his testimony before the U.S. Congress.

TikTok, which is owned by Chinese tech company ByteDance, has been under intense scrutiny over concerns it could hand over user data to the Chinese government or promote pro-Beijing propaganda.

Both the Canadian and U.S. governments have banned TikTok's app on government-issued cellphones, and other companies around the world have done the same.

Chew testified at the U.S. Congress in March, asking lawmakers not to pursue a ban on the app or force the parent company to give up its ownership stake.

He said TikTok also prioritizes the safety of young users, and it planned to store all U.S. user data on servers maintained and owned by the software giant Oracle.

On Thursday, Chew said his team has already built an unprecedented project which allows it to store U.S. data on "American soil by an American company, overseen by American personnel.''

"So, this kind of protection for American data is beyond what any other company in our industry has ever done,'' said Chew, adding it's very expensive to build.

Chew said TikTok's mission is to "inspire creativity and bring joy.''

You will be "heard and have chances to succeed'' as long as you have talent, he said.

Anderson asked Chew about the possibility of people becoming addicted to the platform.

"From a company point of view, for example, it's in your interest to have people on there as long as possible,'' said Anderson. "That's how advertising money will flow, and so forth.''

Two men in discussion sit in chairs sit on a stage.

Chew said the company has done a number of things to suppress that.

"If you spend too much time on our platform, we will proactively send you videos to tell you to get off the platform,'' said Chew.

At the end of the conversation, Chew and Anderson made a TikTok video together, which Chew predicted would get many views.

"That one goes viral. I think I've given up on your algorithm, actually,'' said Anderson with a laugh while wrapping up the session.

A spokeswoman from TikTok said Chew is also visiting Vancouver to meet with some Canadian creators to learn about the impact TikTok has had on their lives, livelihoods and communities.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta-Canadian Press News Fellowship, which is not involved in the editorial process.

Credit belongs to : www.cbc.ca

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