A TikTok executive said the company has faced more criticism than older tech firms because there's 'a lot of skepticism of platforms' now

  • A TikTok executive said the company's birth during an age of increasing distrust of big tech has made it a bigger target for criticism, per an Axios report.
  • Michael Beckerman, TikTok's head of US public policy, said the firm "didn't have the opportunity to grow up in the golden years of the internet, when tech companies could do no wrong."
  • Instead, TikTok entered the US market in 2018, during a time when skepticism of tech platforms, content moderation, data privacy, and other factors proliferated public perception of the industry.
  • TikTok's future remains unclear as President Donald Trump's Sept. 15 deadline approaches for its parent company — the China-based Bytedance — to divest the firm. 
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TikTok's fate continues to hang in the balance as its China-based parent company remains under pressure to divest its US business.

Multiple factors have long been at play in the TikTok-US-China debacle, such as the question of how accessible American data is to the Chinese government. 

But TikTok's vice president Michael Beckerman, who oversees US public policy for the company, said during a Wednesday press call that another reason for the criticism could be because of the ever-increasing distrust of big tech, according to an Axios report.

"We didn't have the opportunity to grow up in the golden years of the internet, when tech companies could do no wrong," Beckerman said Wednesday according to Axios. "We grew up in the techlash age, where there's a lot of skepticism of platforms, how they moderate content and how their algorithms work."

Beckerman was referring to the shift in perception of the tech industry that has occurred in recent years, which has been dubbed the "techlash." The public has stopped looking at Silicon Valley through rose-colored glasses as the potential dangers of technology have entered the arena, like user data privacy, election interference, and censorship practices. Now, many are calling for the powerful industry to be regulated.

Beckerman also said the two-year-old firm is "operating with the expectations of a 10-year-old company," according to Axios. TikTok entered the US market in 2018, the same year that Facebook's mishandling of user data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal came to light.

TikTok executives on the Wednesday call said they were pulling back the curtain on TikTok's algorithm, which powers the ultra-popular video sharing app and is somewhat of the secret sauce to a would-be acquisition. China recently tweaked its export rules to include certain types of technology, including artificial intelligence, which could strip a deal of TikTok's coveted algorithm.

President Trump set a Sept. 15 deadline for Bytedance, the China-based parent company, to divest its US TikTok business before it would be banned nationwide. If a US firm acquired TikTok, it could skirt the president's US ban on the app. It would also ease the US government's concerns surrounding national security.

But the possibility of any such deal remains unclear. Officials were reportedly mulling over the decision to extend the deadline for an acquisition past Sept. 15. President Trump refuted that move and told reporters on Thursday that an extension would not be happening.

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