By V. Jay La Rosa, Global Security, TikTok
At TikTok, our security team is constantly working to make people safer in an environment of ever-evolving threats. Over the past few years, consumers have become much more aware of potential risks. A smarter, more well-informed community is better for everyone, including those of us in the security field. It pushes us to constantly improve our systems and efforts, and question all of our underlying assumptions. This is part of why we've continued to rapidly develop our team – including adding hundreds of engineers in the US over the last year.
We also know it's not enough to keep users safe from real threats – we also need to further reduce the potential confusion that can arise from things that can be perceived or misinterpreted as threats. As engineers, we're innately attuned to actual and potential threats, but providing users with true peace of mind can only come when we stretch ourselves beyond the actual and potential realm, and appreciate perception.
Earlier this year, for example, we saw speculation about clipboard access that we believe posed no actual risk, but appreciated that there was concern. We immediately took steps to reduce clipboard access – even though information was never leaving a user's device and was consistent with the behavior of what other apps, including most news media apps, were doing.
We believe it is more important to provide peace of mind to our community than to provide marginal functionality of a feature, or give convenience to a user or engineer. In line with this, we continue to work on similar efforts around cleaning up inactive code in the app to reduce potential confusion or misconceptions. For example, we are enhancing the ecosystem around our self-developed code for automated attack defense that detects and prevents inauthentic and bot-like behavior and integrating new and advanced industry leading partners to prevent abuse.
These efforts go beyond what many of our peers do and require extensive time and resources, but we view this as one of the most important moves we can make to build trust with our community. We appreciate when security experts ask critical questions about how technology companies are keeping our community safe because this moves trust and safety forward for all users, which is the most important thing companies can achieve.
After all, TikTok's goal is to inspire creativity and bring joy. And we can achieve that most effectively when users have complete peace of mind.