ByteDance, Tencent And Other Major Tech Companies Under Fire By China

Tyumen, Russia - January 21, 2020: TikTok and Facebook application  on screen Apple iPhone XR

Chinese Government officials have stated they want to conduct in-person investigations on the major tech giants, such as TikTok parent company ByteDance, in an attempt to prevent abuse and harassment via their algorithms.

Algorithms are most commonly used in content recommendations, like Google’s search engine or Facebook’s news feed, to produce results. However, the Chinese Cyberspace Administration released a statement in which it said that those algorithms have been abused and that it plans to launch an investigation, targeting “large-scale websites, platforms and products with big influence”, without naming any single one in particular.

If the investigation determines that there has been some form of misuse of the algorithms in favour of the tech giants, then they could face severe penalties, both financial and otherwise.

However this investigation has been seen as an attempt by China to bring the major tech firms under control and align them with their own algorithm management rules, which were introduced earlier in 2022. They are designed to prevent a company from monopolizing the market through the use of fake news, while also fighting back against online addiction, gambling and social disorder.

China’s attempts to bring tech companies under greater control has made the environment quite hostile for several major firms, with ByteDance (TikTok’s parent company) cofounder Zhang Yiming being among those who have stepped down from their positions in the last couple of years.

Additionally, representatives from tech firms such as Alibaba and had recently been interviewed by the internet regulator in regards to recent job cuts.

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