TikTok denies that it creates a US-only algorithm

TikTok has categorically denied the report that it is in the process of forking its source code to create a US-only algorithm. The company labeled the report as 'misleading and factually incorrect'. ByteDance's social media app said it is “simply not possible” to create a separate recommendation algorithm for its US users, especially within the nine-month timeline established under the new law.

TikTok confirms it is not splitting its algorithm for the US

Last month, US President Joe Biden signed a bill that would ban TikTok in the country for security reasons unless ByteDance sells its US operations to a domestic company. The Chinese company has until January 2025 to decide, although it has already said a sale is not an option. Instead, it has sued the US government over the potential ban.

TikTok says the law is unconstitutional and violates the First Amendment rights of U.S. citizens. Several TikTok creators who make a living from the app have also backed the company and filed a similar lawsuit against the US government. These lawsuits aim to block the law, which would allow the platform to continue its operations in the country under ByteDance's ownership.

In the meantime, Reuters reported that TikTok is working on a version of its recommendation algorithm that will work separately from the Chinese version of the app, Duoyin. The company has commissioned hundreds of engineers separate millions of lines of code so that the US version of the platform has its unique algorithm without link to any information about its Chinese users.

According to the release, which cites unnamed people with direct knowledge of the matter, work has been underway since late last year, but it would take another year for the split to be completed. The report suggested that TikTok is open to selling its US arm if it loses the lawsuit. Since the platform wouldn't produce much without its algorithm, it appears to be working on creating one.

TikTok says this is not true

However, this may not be true, if TikTok's latest statement is to be believed. In a message on XThe company said: “The Reuters story published today is misleading and factually incorrect. As we said in our lawsuit, the “qualified divestiture” required by law to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. And certainly not within the period of 270 days required by law.”

In a separate statement to The Verge, the company reiterated that the report is about splitting the recommendation algorithm is “100% false”. “While we have continued to work in good faith to further protect the authenticity of the TikTok experience, it is simply incorrect to suggest that this work would facilitate a divestiture or that divestiture is even a possibility,” the report said. Only time will tell what happens with TikTok in the US when the January 2025 deadline arrives.

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