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Bytedance’s Helo takes down 160K accounts and 5M posts; hits 40 million MAUs

Bytedance’s Helo has taken down over 160,000 accounts and 5 million posts for violating its community guidelines. The company has not provided any specifics about the kinds of content it took down, how the posts violated its guidelines, or even if the content was election-related. Its worth noting that Bytedance’s short-video app TikTok was taken off app stores on direction of the Madras High Court, and lifted later. The app became available again on app stores only yesterday. Helo now has 40 million MAUs, gained since its June launch, and is targeting 300% growth in 2019.

Moreover, Helo claims that only 0.07% of the news shared on the platform was fake news and was immediately flagged and taken down. It has content moderators who review, flag and takedown content in 14 Indian languages. Helo partnered with AltNews in October last year, and runs an escalation channel with the ECI as well as a public announcement in the app asking users to ‘be mindful’ of the content they publish.

Helo also went global last month, and now serves India diaspora:

Giving access to Indian communities across the USA, Canada, Singapore, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, South Africa, and Bangladesh, Helo has become the app for ‘Global Desis’ to be connected with their friends and loved ones back home.

Platforms controlling content: removals, moderation

  • Earlier this month, Bytedance’s TikTok removed 6 million videos which violated its community guidelines and also introduced an age gate which will allows only children aged 13 years and above to create an account. It’s worth noting that TikTok has no way to confirm if those signing up for new accounts are actually above 13 years of age. You can simply enter a wrong birthday to show you’re older than 13.
  • Earlier this month, ShareChat said it had removed 487,000 pieces of content and 54,404 accounts since February for violating its community guidelines and terms of use. Of the pieces of content removed, 13,195 were from ShareChat’s politics and news section, the company said, and 6,431 factually inaccurate pieces of content were taken down by a third-party fact-checking agency NewsChecker.in.
  • Facebook said earlier this month that it had removed 687 pages and accounts linked to the Congress party, and 15 pages, groups and accounts linked to Silver Touch, an Ahmedabad-based IT firm that created the Narendra Modi app, for engaging in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”.

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