Oracle has begun auditing TikTok’s algorithms and content moderation models, according to a new report by Axios out this morning. Those reviews began last week and followed TikTok’s announcement in June that it had moved its US traffic to Oracle servers amid claims that its US user data had been used by TikTok colleagues in China.
The new arrangement aims to enable Oracle to monitor TikTok’s systems to aid the company in its efforts to assure US lawmakers that his app is not being manipulated by Chinese government agencies. Oracle will monitor how TikTok’s algorithm uncovers content to “ensure that results are in line with expectations,” and that those models have not been manipulated, the report said. In addition, TikTok will regularly monitor TikTok’s content moderation practices, including both its automated systems and moderation decisions where people choose how they want to enforce TikTok policies.
TikTok’s moderation policy has been controversial in recent years. 2019, The Washington Post reported TikTok’s US employees had often been ordered to restrict some videos on its platform under orders from Beijing-based teams, and that teams in China sometimes blocked or sanctioned certain videos out of caution about the Chinese government’s restrictions. That same year, The Guardian also reported TikTok had ordered its moderators to censor videos mentioning things like Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence or the banned religious group Falun Gong, according to a series of leaked documents. in 2020, The Intercept reported: TikTok moderators were told to censor political speech in live streams and suppress messages from “unwanted users” — the unattractive, poor or disabled, the documents said.
All the while, TikTok disputed the various claims — calling leaked documents out of date in the latter two scenarios, for example. It also continued to insist that its US branch did not follow instructions from its Chinese parent company, ByteDance.
But a damnation June 2022 report by BuzzFeed News proved TikTok’s connection to China was closer than it said. The news channel found that US data had been repeatedly consulted by staff in China, citing recordings of 80 internal TikTok meetings.
Following BuzzFeed’s reporting, TikTok announced it would move all US traffic to Oracle’s infrastructure cloud service — a move intended to protect TikTok’s US user data from prying eyes.
That agreement, part of a larger operation dubbed “Project Texas,” had been going on for more than a year and aimed to further separate TikTok’s U.S. operations from China, and hire an outside company to oversee it. stick to the algorithms.
Now it seems Oracle is responsible for monitoring TikTok to prevent data from the US from being routed to China. The deal deepens Oracle’s involvement with TikTok as not only the host for the user data, but also as an auditor who could later substantiate or challenge TikTok’s claims that its system operates fairly and without influence from China.
Oracle and TikTok have an interesting history. Towards the end of the Trump administration, the former president tried to force a sale between the two companies, which landed him long time supporter, Oracle founder and CTO Larry Ellison to help close the deal for his company. That deal eventually fell apart in February 2021, but the story didn’t end there, as it turned out later.
But while this new TikTok-Oracle deal is significant in terms of the tech industry and in politics, Oracle’s deal with TikTok doesn’t necessarily make the company a more powerful player in the cloud infrastructure market.
Even with TikTok’s business, Oracle’s cloud infrastructure service represents only a fraction of the cloud infrastructure market. In the most recent quarter, Synergy Research, a company that keeps track of this data, reported that the cloud infrastructure market reached nearly $55 billion, with Amazon leading the way with 34%, Microsoft second with 21% and Google third with 10%. Oracle remains below 2%, said John Dinsdale, the company’s chief analyst.
“Oracle’s share of the global cloud infrastructure services market remains just below 2% and there are no signs of significant growth. So Oracle’s cloud revenue growth is pretty much in line with overall market growth,” Dinsdale told londonbusinessblog.com. Synergy defines “cloud infrastructure services” as Infrastructure as a Service, Platform as a Service, and hosted private cloud services. Dinsdale points out that the SaaS Oracle operations are much stronger.”