TikTok is stepping up its transparency efforts by extending access to its Research API to Europe and launching new tools for commercial content. These initiatives, aimed at shedding more light on the platform’s content, are driven by feedback from researchers and civil society.
TikTok launched an initial version of its Research API earlier this year, offered free to academic researchers in the US. The move aimed to facilitate independent studies of the platform and ensure transparency in TikTok content. This move attracted over 60 applications from US non-profit academic researchers focusing on diverse topics such as consumer trends, misinformation, and mental health. In the following weeks, European non-profit academic researchers can apply for access to this Research API.
Additionally, TikTok is improving its Research API based on community feedback. The company is launching Lab Access to allow collaborative research projects, accommodating up to 10 researchers. All researchers must have a TikTok for Developers account and reside in the US or Europe. Applications can be submitted collectively for researchers from the same university, while multi-university projects require separate applications.
TikTok is also introducing its Commercial Content Library, a searchable database offering information about paid ads and other commercial content on the platform. Data includes ad creative, run dates, main targeting parameters, number of ad viewers, and more. The Commercial Content Library is open to anyone, but currently, only data from Europe is available, with plans for expansion in the future.
TikTok’s move to enhance transparency and facilitate independent research is a positive step towards fostering trust and openness in the digital community. The platform’s continued effort to listen to community feedback and adapt accordingly is commendable. This development underscores the importance of transparency in today’s digital landscape, particularly for platforms with massive user bases like TikTok.