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Tuesday, Jan 31, 2023

TikTok CEO says the company is set up to avoid the kind of job cuts Elon Musk made at Twitter: 'We don't need to lay off half the workforce to achieve the efficiency levels that we want'

TikTok CEO says the company is set up to avoid the kind of job cuts Elon Musk made at Twitter: 'We don't need to lay off half the workforce to achieve the efficiency levels that we want'

Days after reports that Elon Musk laid off many contracted content moderators, TikTok's CEO says moderators are key to keeping a platform safe. TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said the company won't need to cut half its staff like Twitter.
TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew said that the company is well-equipped to avoid mass layoffs in response to questions related to Elon Musk's decision to fire around half of Twitter's staff to cut costs.

"I hope that day never comes," Chew said during the Bloomberg New Economy Forum in Singapore on Wednesday. "The way we are organized is one where we don't need to lay off half the workforce to achieve the efficiency levels that we want to achieve."

Chew emphasized that content moderation plays a critical role in efforts to secure TikTok, which is why the platform employs tens and thousands of employees in content moderation, he said. 

"For many tech companies, including ourselves, one of the largest teams that you will have is your trust and safety team," Chew said, according to Bloomberg. "That is an investment that is definitely worthwhile if you want to keep the platform a very safe platform."

Chew said that its "too early too tell" what direction Twitter is headed under Musk's leadership. 

Chew's remarks come just days after Musk began layoffs for content moderators that were outsourced under contracts at Twitter, which led some to voice concern over how the platform will battle misinformation.

While Twitter hasn't confirmed how many contract workers it laid off, content moderation expert Sarah Roberts, who was a staff researcher at Twitter, tweeted on Sunday that at least 3,000 of them lost their jobs on Saturday night. 

At the same time, TikTok reportedly pledged to double its engineering staff in Mountain View, California to 2,000 employees to beef up data security protocols, two people familiar with the matter told The Information.

Despite industry-wide layoffs across the tech sector, TikTok continues to see its overall earnings grow. Still, the platform slashed its global ad revenue target by around $2 billion earlier this month in response to plummeting sales, blaming the company's advertising and e-commerce teams for underperforming.

TikTok has also come under scrutiny after TikTok confirmed in a letter to Republican senators sent in late June that ByteDance employees based in China can access US user data.

An October report said the platform's parent company ByteDance had discussed plans to gather location data on at least two users in the US. TikTok said in a statement at the time that its app "does not collect precise GPS location information from US users."

TikTok's influence on the US is now seen by the FBI as a national security threat to the country, FBI's investigation director Christopher Wray told lawmakers on Tuesday. He said he was "extremely concerned" that the Chinese government may use TikTok to collect data on millions of American users, manipulate recommendation algorithms, and control software that can compromise millions of personal devices.
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