Chinese Internet Companies Required To Disclose Algorithm Data

Chinese Internet giants including Alibaba, Tiktok-owner ByteDance and Tencent have shared details of their critical  algorithms with China's regulators for the first time. 

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) has published a list with descriptions of 30 algorithms, announcing that its algorithm list would be routinely updated in a bid to exert greater control over data abuse.

Algorithms decide what users see and the rank order that they see it. They are critical to driving the growth of social media platforms and they are customarily very closely guarded by the operating companies. In the US, Meta and Alphabet have successfully argued they are trade secrets amid calls for more disclosure.

China has the biggest base of Internet users in the world, and is a massive market for e-commerce, gaming and smartphones and the government is highly protective of their Internet technology behind these companies and the government does not allow them to export or license it foreign users. Beijing has urged service providers to ensure algorithms "actively spread positive energy", and are not used to encourage indulgences, excessive spending and exposure to celebrity culture. 

Among the listed algorithms is one belonging to e-commerce website Taobao, owned by Alibaba as well as the owner of internationally popular social media platform TikTok.

  • Taobao's algorithm "recommends products or services to users through their digital footprint and historical search data."
  •  ByteDance's algorithm for Douyin, China's version of TikTok, is used to gauge user interests through what they click, comment on, "like" or "dislike".

International brands operated by Alpahabet and Meta have resisted pressure to reveal this kind of information over concerns about how they use data and curate content, but they have resisted until now, saying that algorithms are business secrets.

Chinese regulators have been tightening their grip on the technology sector for several years and the country adopted new rules for algorithms in March, which allow users to opt out of contributing to recommendations. It also required algorithms with "public opinion properties or social mobilisation capabilities" to register with the CAC.

CAC China:    EIET:      BBC:    @BBCWorld   Telangana    Yahoo:    TeluguStop:    

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