TikTok will allow researchers from nonprofit US universities to access some of the platform’s data. The platform API allows access for scientists and analysts “publicly anonymous” Data such as user profiles, comments, likes and “favorite” videos and search results to make TikTok trends and user activities understandable and transparent.
The Research API was first announced last summer, and Advisory Board members gained access to it in November. Now a wider range of researchers can take a closer look at TikTok, but access to the API is still controlled by the company. Research proposals must be approved by TikTok’s US data security department, and scientists must comply with the terms of the service. The company says it will expand access to its research API to more regions and nonprofit researchers “in the following months”.
TikTok’s initial announcement of API access for analysts and academics was another attempt to prove that TikTok, like parent company ByteDance, poses no threat to US national security by banning use of the app on work phones by members of the House of House Agents and similar restrictions extended to officials in various state and federal agencies.
The news of expanding access to public data is the latest in a series of confidence-building efforts by the company to give researchers, journalists and the public more information about how it works. Earlier this month, the company invited members of the media to tour its Center for Transparency and Accountability, a physical office space where visitors can interact with moderation simulation software and learn more about its security practices.
However, American politicians, both liberals and conservatives, continue to call for a total ban on TikTok, and the issue has become a source of political manipulation and speculation for now.