Software giant Oracle began auditing TikTok algorithms following recent claims that personal data from the social sharing platform’s users in the United States and elsewhere were being accessed by platform personnel in China at the government’s behest.
The audit began last week and came after TikTok’s announcement back in June that it moved its US traffic to Oracle servers.
According to insiders, Oracle wants the ability to monitor TikTok’s systems to assure US legislators that the app is not being manipulated by the Chinese government. The audit will check how the platform’s algorithm surfaces content to ensure that outcomes align with delineated expectations sans external manipulation.
On the other hand, TikTok execs stated that the company would regularly audit its own content moderation practices and decision-making process, as well as automated systems.
Admittedly, TikTok’s content moderation policies have long skewed towards the controversial. However, an expose by American online news portal BuzzFeed in June 2022 showed that TikTok staff in China were accessing the individual records of users in the US through recordings from around 80 of the sharing platform’s internal meetings.
The expose prompted a wholesale decision to protect American user data by moving all of the platform’s user traffic in the US to Oracle’s infrastructure cloud service as a way to prevent suspicious access.
Referred to as Project Texas, the initiative had been in place for a year and actively separated TikTok’s US operations from those in China. The company also resorted to employing a third-party firm to handle its algorithms.
Not Their First Rodeo
Oracle’s current interaction with TikTok has no bearing on uplifting its position in the cloud infrastructure scene, but it does have much industrial – and even political – significance.
Admittedly, Oracle’s cloud infrastructure is practically a drop in the ocean that is the market. Indeed, a recent report by Synergy Research showed that Oracle only holds a 2% share of the market compared to Amazon’s 34%, Microsoft at 21%, and Google a distant third at 10%.
According to Synergy Research analyst John Dinsdale, Oracle’s cloud revenue growth is keeping pace with the market’s growth, but its software as a service (SaaS) business is doing much better.
This isn’t the first time that TikTok and Oracle have interacted. As the Trump presidency drew to a close, the former president tried to broker a deal between the companies through Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle as well as the company’s chief technology officer. However, the deal fell through in the first quarter of 2021.