TikTok’s Head of US Trust and Safety quits the company. The figure was an important leader for the separate entity TikTok that was just created to try and stop a ban in the US.
TikTok’s Head of US Trust and Safety
Eric Han, TikTok’s head of trust and safety for the US, is now leaving the company on May 12th, as per two people that are familiar with the matter as well as an internal memo to employees that have been aired.
The figures’ departure comes as TikTok is still trying to come to a deal to avoid a ban by the US government. Han for many years has been leading TikTok’s safety teams in the US, and in December, he was named the head of trust and safety for TikTok US Data Security (USDS), which is a separate entity that is created to convince the government that the app should not be banned.
The Memo Announcing Han’s Departure
In the memo sent to employees announcing his departure, Andy Bonillo, interim USDS general manager, said that he will be “stepping in to lead USDS T&S on an interim basis” until “we identify Eric’s replacement for the longer term.” The title of Bonillo already says “interim” due to the fact that the US government has yet to approve TikTok’s USDS proposal and would ultimately have the final say on who gets to run it.
“Over the past four years, Eric helped safeguard our U.S. community through an incredible stage of growth,” Bonillo in the memo stated. “We remain dedicated to upholding our commitments to the TikTok community – both in the U.S. and around the world – as we continue to invest in trust and safety as a cornerstone of those efforts.”
What TikTok Has To Say via Their Spokesperson
After this very story was published, Maureen Shanahan, TikTok spokesperson emailed a representative from The Verge to say that the role of Han is specifically focused on the “compliance, safety strategies, and moderation for content involving US users’ private data.” The implication here is that he had little to no oversight of, say, the trust and safety efforts for the video recommendations of TikTok in the US, despite the company saying back in December that he was leading the US legal policy of the company as well as the threat intelligence teams in his new role.
“Outside USDS, TikTok’s global Trust and Safety team oversees the platform’s safety policies, processes, and systems for our global community, including the US,” Shanahan in the email wrote. “TikTok’s Head of Trust and Safety is based in Dublin with leaders across the US, Ireland, and Singapore. Our global Trust and Safety team develops global safety policies for the platform and oversees moderation of content that does not involve US users’ private data.”
The Fate of TikTok in the US with This New Development
The fate of TikTok in the US feels as uncertain as ever at the moment, with states such as Montana trying to ban the app and the bipartisan RESTRICT Act on the other hand making its way through Congress.
The Biden administration has sent smoke signals already thus indicating that TikTok’s USDS proposal isn’t good enough to appease its national security concerns and that it will very likely demand a full divestiture of TikTok from ByteDance, its Chinese parent company. The Chinese government doesn’t like that idea, which, as the saying goes, puts TikTok between a rock and quite a really hard place.
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