Marcos meets with TikTok execs; fake news tackled

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Marcos meets with TikTok execs; fake news tackled
resident Ferdinand Marcos Jr. and other world leaders participate in an informal roundtable dialogue during the APEC 2023 in San Francisco, California, U.S.A. on November 16, 2023.
(PCO Pool Photo)

SAN FRANCISCO – President Marcos and executives of the popular yet controversial short video hosting service TikTok have discussed ways to help small businesses promote their products and exchanged views on “fake news” during a meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation summit (APEC) here.

In a statement yesterday, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said Marcos has set a “partnership” with
 Tiktok on “edutainment” or instructive entertainment, angled for Filipino sellers, in order to train them to promote their goods.

“We want to give more resources and highlight and train the local sellers in the more rural parts of the country because that’s one thing interesting on the platform,” Tiktok chief executive officer Shou Zi Chew was quoted in the PCO statement as saying.

“We have a lot of this in Vietnam, a lot of this in Indonesia, a lot of this in Malaysia... give it a platform to sell around the country and export around the world. That’s the plan,” he added.

Chew, whose video-sharing platform has about 50 million users in the Philippines, said his company was “very excited” about two “edutainment” projects intended for smaller sellers. The statement did not elaborate on the projects.

A number of countries, including Australia, Belgium, India, France, Netherlands and the US have imposed restrictions on Tiktok due to privacy and national security concerns.

Tiktok, which is owned by Chinese technology firm Bytedance, has denied sharing users’ data to the Chinese government.

Earlier this month, National Security Council Assistant Director General Jonathan Malaya said the Philippine government is studying the potential threat posed by Tiktok, noting that Chinese firms are required to cooperate with their government. A nationwide ban on the China-made platform may be enforced if it would be proven to be involved in cyberespionage.

Chew assured Marcos that Tiktok gives importance to the safety of its users.

“(There are) rules that keep people civil and keep the platform safe. So, we have community guidelines like no violence, no sexual abuse material, we have all these guidelines and we have a team of people who moderate content,” he said.

Chew added that the platform has a local representative who is working very closely with one of the regulators to ensure that the guidelines are followed.

“So, if there’s anything that crosses the guidelines, we will moderate... We get feedback and move very quickly if there is something that we spot is violated on the platform and that’s something that we take extremely, seriously,” he explained.

Reacting to the remarks of the Tiktok executive, Marcos said it is quite difficult to differentiate between what is just a strong opinion and what is “fake news.”

“But just the differences in opinion and how they’re expressed, that sometimes is very hard to determine… where is it excessive and where is it acceptable but I suppose you have all the rules and… that you need to do that,” Marcos, whose presidential bid in 2022 was boosted by active Tiktok users, said.

According to Marcos, it is inevitable for political personalities like him to participate in the conversations in popular platforms.

“For example, for someone like me who’s in politics, if you’re talking to 50 million people, then I need to be part of that conversation... So, it’s inevitable... the many sides, multi-faceted side will come in,” he said.

Tiktok was introduced to the Philippines in May 2017. Last year, the Chinese platform launched TikTok Shop, where users can browse and purchase products they see in videos on their feeds.

According to the PCO, TikTok regards Southeast Asia as its biggest emerging market outside the US, with its 325 million monthly active users covering nearly half the region’s population.

Marcos invited to Peru

Also yesterday, Marcos’ bilateral meeting with Peruvian President Dina Boluarte pushed through, allowing the two leaders to talk about investments and the South American country’s hosting of APEC next year.

Boluarte also invited Marcos to visit Peru - together with Filipino investors - as part of the commemoration of the establishment of formal relations between Manila and Lima.

Boluarte added that Peru would be opening its embassy in Manila and expressed hope that the Philippines would do the same in Lima.

Peru closed its embassy in Manila in 2003 as part of its austerity program. The Peruvian ambassador to Bangkok concurrently serves as non-resident ambassador to the Philippines.

Boluarte also told Marcos she wants the trade agencies of Peru and the Philippines to work together for her country to ship its agricultural goods such as grapes, avocados and blueberries to the Philippines.

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