Citing a new law passed in Russia to limit what the government refers to as ‘false’ news about the invasion of Ukraine, Chinese-owend video and messaging app TikTok has announced it will suspend “livestreaming and new content” to its app while the company assesses its legal and safety implications.
1/ TikTok is an outlet for creativity and entertainment that can provide a source of relief and human connection during a time of war when people are facing immense tragedy and isolation. However, the safety of our employees and our users remain our highest priority.— TikTokComms (@TikTokComms) March 6, 2022
The company said “the safety of our employees and our users remain our highest priority.” In-app messages will continue to work.
The news follows announcements from a variety of Western news organizations– including CNN, the BBC and Bloomberg News, which all decided to suspend the work of their journalists in Russia after passage of the new law and a harsh crackdown on independent media.
TikTok has been slower than other major social media platforms to adopt policies on how how to deal with complicated issues such as misinformation and state media, attempting to portray itself as ‘apolitical.’ But as Reuters noted, after the launch of the Russian invasion, the site was flooded with video and images from Ukraine.
“Videos of people huddling and crying in windowless bomb shelters, explosions blasting through urban settings and missiles streaking across Ukrainian cities took over the app from its usual offerings of fashion, fitness and dance videos.
Justin Hendrix is CEO and Editor of Tech Policy Press, a new nonprofit media venture concerned with the intersection of technology and democracy. Previously, he was Executive Director of NYC Media Lab. He spent over a decade at The Economist in roles including Vice President, Business Development & Innovation. He is an associate research scientist and adjunct professor at NYU Tandon School of Engineering. Opinions expressed here are his own.