ByteDance owned social network TikTok has announced that its Safety Centre – a resource that gives users tools and information to protect themselves online – is now available in 10 major Indian languages – Hindi, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Punjabi, Telugu, Tamil, Kannada, Malayalam and Oriya.

In addition, the web page now includes a section on India’s upcoming general elections. In it, TikTok asks users to “continue to use platform in a respectful and responsible way”, refrain from uploading or sharing unlawful content and report any such content using the Election Commission of India’s cVIGIL app.

The page also has advice on how to combat bullying – including how to make an account private, delete or filter comments or fans, and report harassment – as well as links to anti-bullying resources.

‘Voluntary code of ethics’ for social media platforms

On March 20, the Election Commission announced that Facebook, Google, WhatsApp, ShareChat, TikTok and the Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI) had presented it with a ‘voluntary code of ethics’ for the general election. In it, the platforms agreed to:

  • Mechanism for ECI to report violations to platforms: Platforms have developed a notification mechanism for the ECI to legally notify them of potential violations of Section 126 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 and other electoral laws.
  • Action within 3 hours for violations of 48-hour silent period: For reported violations of Section 126 of the RP Act – which prohibits campaigning in the two days before voting – platforms will acknowledge and/or process these legal orders within 3 hours (as per the Sinha Committee recommendations).
  • Dedicated staff during elections: The platforms said they would appoint dedicated people/teams during the elections to contact the ECI and exchange feedback for acting on its legal requests.
  • Pre-certification for political advertisers: The code requires platforms to provide a method for political advertisers to submit pre-certificates issued by ECI or its Media Certification & Monitoring Committee (MCMC) for running election-related ads. It requires that platforms “expeditiously” act on paid political ads that do not have a certification, as the ECI notifies.
  • Communication between the ECI, IAMAI, and platforms: Platforms will update the ECI on measures they have taken to prevent abuse of their platforms, pursuant to legal requests by the ECI.
  • Awareness and education campaigns: The platforms will organise campaigns to build awareness about electoral laws and other related matters.
  • Training nodal officers: Platforms will train their nodal officers to the ECI how to use their products and send sending requests to the platforms.

Tiktok fined for violating children’s privacy

In February, TikTok was fined $5.7 million by the US Federal Trades Commission for violating the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), over complaints that it illegally collected personal information of children below 13 years without parental consent.