TikTok is facing criticism for removing a feature that displayed the view counts of hashtags on its platform. The change was made without any announcement and was reportedly motivated by concerns that the app was boosting pro-Palestinian content.
Academic researchers are concerned about the removal of hashtag view counts. They say it was an important tool for measuring viewership data and studying the spread of harmful content and trends. In the case of the Israel-Gaza war, researchers used viewership counts to measure the difference in support for the two sides among TikTok users.
TikTok says the change was made “in line with industry standards” and that there are “other ways to study TikTok content.” However, critics argue that the removal of transparency tools is a concerning trend in the social media space. They point out that other platforms, such as Twitter and Meta, have also restricted data access to journalists and researchers in recent years.
The removal of hashtag view counts is just the latest example of TikTok’s efforts to limit transparency. The company has also restricted the functions of its Creative Center, which was previously used by researchers to study TikTok content. TikTok says these changes are necessary to protect user privacy and prevent misuse of data. However, critics argue that they are simply making it more difficult for researchers to hold the company accountable./p>