TikTok restricts tool used researchers

TikTok has restricted one tool researchers use to analyze popular videos, a move that follows a barrage of criticism directed at the social media platform about content related to the Israel-Hamas war and a study that questioned whether the company was suppressing topics that don’t align with the interests of the Chinese government.

TikTok’s Creative Center – which is available for anyone to use but is geared towards helping brands and advertisers see what’s trending on the app – no longer allows users to search for specific hashtags, including innocuous ones.

The social media company, which is owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has also removed certain hashtags from the Creative Center that some online researchers had stored for analysis. They include topics that would be seen as controversial to the Chinese government – such as “UyghurGenocide” and “TiananmenSquare”- as well as hashtags about U.S. politics and the war in Gaza and Ukraine. The Center will now only allow searches for the top 100 hashtags by industry, the company said.

“Unfortunately, some individuals and organizations have misused the Center’s search function to draw inaccurate conclusions, so we are changing some of the features to ensure it is used for its intended purpose,” TikTok spokesperson Alex Haurek said in a prepared statement.

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