World

TikTok Quietly Curtails Data Tool Used by Critics

TikTok has quietly restricted one of its few tools to help measure the popularity of trends on the video app, after the tool’s results were used by researchers and lawmakers to scrutinize content on the site related to geopolitics and the Israel-Hamas war.

The tool, called the Creative Center, is meant to help advertisers track popular hashtags on the site. The Creative Center is available to anyone and can produce figures about the number of videos tied to a certain hashtag and information about the audience that saw those videos.

The company’s critics had harnessed the tool to argue that TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, fails to adequately moderate content on the app and that Beijing influences the posts that appear on it. TikTok itself has cited hashtag data to push back against claims of pro-Palestinian bias.

But as of last week, there was no longer a “search” button on the tool and links for hashtags related to the war and U.S. politics stopped working. TikTok said the tool was now focused on sharing data on the top 100 hashtags within different industries, such as pets or travel.

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