Home TikTok denies reports it is creating a US-only algorithm

TikTok denies reports it is creating a US-only algorithm


  • TikTok is creating a U.S.-specific recommendation algorithm to operate independently from ByteDance.
  • The code separation could lead to a divestiture of U.S. assets, though no plans exist currently.
  • ByteDance engineers have been separating code for months; it may take over a year to complete.

A new report has claimed TikTok is working on a clone of its recommendation algorithm for its 170 million U.S. users. This could result in a version that operates independently of its Chinese parent company ByteDance.

Reuters writes that they’ve spoken with anonymous sources who said that “once the code is split, it could lay the groundwork for a divestiture of the U.S. assets, although there are no current plans to do so.”

The plan to split the code was reportedly in the works last year, predating the bill that will force a sale of TikTok’s U.S. operations due to national security concerns due to Chinese ownership and its links to the Beijing government. The bill was signed into law in April of this year.

While the Chinese-owned app initially declined to comment on the article, they then took to X after the story was published. In response, they wrote: “The Reuters story published today is misleading and factually inaccurate.

“As we said in our court filing, the ‘qualified divestiture’ demanded by the Act to allow TikTok to continue operating in the United States is simply not possible: not commercially, not technologically, not legally. And certainly not on the 270-day timeline required by the Act.”

Reuters then updated their article and a spokesperson said: “We stand by our reporting.”

‘Ordered to begin separating millions of lines of code…’

In the original report, sources explain how engineers at ByteDance and TikTok have been busy over the last few months as they were “ordered to begin separating millions of lines of code, sifting through the company’s algorithm that pairs users with videos to their liking.”

The aim is reportedly to create a separate code base that is independent of systems used by ByteDance’s Chinese version of TikTok, Douyin, whilst removing any information linking to Chinese users.

Two sources familiar with the project estimate it’ll take over a year to complete.

Featured Image: Via Ideogram

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Sophie Atkinson
Tech Journalist

Sophie Atkinson is a UK-based journalist and content writer, as well as a founder of a content agency which focuses on storytelling through social media marketing. She kicked off her career with a Print Futures Award which champions young talent working in print, paper and publishing. Heading straight into a regional newsroom, after graduating with a BA (Hons) degree in Journalism, Sophie started by working for Reach PLC. Now, with five years experience in journalism and many more in content marketing, Sophie works as a freelance writer and marketer. Her areas of specialty span a wide range, including technology, business,…

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