TikTok is expanding access to its search API to non-profit academic institutions in the United States, the company announced Tuesday. The expansion comes as TikTok began testing an early version of the Search API in November. Interested universities and researchers will have to apply for access and be approved by TikTok’s US Data Security Division (USDS).
At the time of TikTok’s initial search API announcement last summer, the company said that searchers currently don’t have an easy way to rate content or run tests on its platform, which is why it saw the need for a search API. search.
“TikTok is working to increase transparency with the search community,” notes the company. “As part of our efforts to hold ourselves accountable for how we moderate and recommend content, we created an API that includes public data about content and accounts on our platform. This API will be made available to researchers worldwide, starting with academic researchers in the United States and expanding to additional regions and to include NGO researchers as we build capacity.”
With the Search API, researchers can access public account data such as user profiles, comments, as well as performance data such as the number of comments, likes, and favorites the user receives. Searchers can also access public content data such as comments, captions, subtitles, along with performance data such as the number of comments, shares, likes and favorites the video receives. Additionally, searchers can access public data for keyword search results.
The initial announcement of TikTok’s search API came as the company was trying to prove that it is not a national security threat due to its parent company’s connection to China. Since then, the company has continued to face scrutiny, as the US House of Representatives ordered its employees and lawmakers to delete TikTok from any government-issued mobile device due to security issues with the popular video-sharing app last December. .
At least 20 states have banned TikTok on government-owned devices. Furthermore, many universities are also banning TikTok from their campus networks and devices, including the University of Texas and Texas A&M University.
The search API update comes as TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew is due to appear before the House Energy and Commerce Committee on March 23. The hearing will mark the first appearance by a TikTok CEO before a congressional panel.