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TikTok faces fan exploitation incident, vows to improve policies for users

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2019-07-04 10:16:35Global Times Editor : Li Yan ECNS App Download

Chinese video-sharing app TikTok has apologized for a glitch that users reportedly experienced in transferring digital gifts to influencers on the app and said that it will further strengthen its policies.

A TikTok spokesperson told the Global Times on Wednesday that "we are committed to protecting the safety and privacy of our user community. We comply with local laws and regulations and will provide relevant information in response to any inquiry."

The comment followed a BBC report on Wednesday saying that TikTok stars promised to share their phone numbers with fans in exchange for gifts of 100 pounds ($125.7), but the stars never answered their phones.

"We do not tolerate behavior that is deceptive in nature and we are sorry to hear about the users' experience," TikTok said in a statement sent to the Global Times on Wednesday.

The app has been the target of an investigation by the UK parliament since February, according to UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

She told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday that "We are looking at the transparency tools for children. We're looking at the messaging system, which is completely open, we're looking at the kind of videos that are collected and shared by children online. We do have an active investigation into TikTok right now, so watch this space."

Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based industry analyst, told the Global Times on Wednesday that it is unworthy for the app to sacrifice its reputation and appeal by allowing its users to have such an uncomfortable experience.

"Third-party platforms might have made use of loopholes," Liu said, adding that the company should normalize its behavior and set some reminder functions for its users.

Compared with technology support, full compliance with local rules and regulations seems more challenging, Liu noted.

The app, owned by Chinese technology giant ByteDance, was fined $5.7 million earlier this year by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for illegally collecting the names, email addresses, pictures and locations of children under age 13.

Daily active users of Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, have exceeded 250 million, media reports said.

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