KARACHI: TikTok held a live webinar on ‘digital wellbeing’ to educate and provide answers to people about digital safety and similar challenges that arise whenever a new technological platform is launched. The discussion was moderated by journalist Afia Salam and APAC Regional Product Policy head Jamin Tan, APAC Safety Advisory Council member Jehan Ara and popular content creator Junaid Akram joined the session as panelists. TikTok works with the mission of inspiring creativity and bringing joy to its users who look forward to fun and having real experiences that are light-hearted and heart-warming. The app is currently the leading destination for short form mobile videos, and provides a platform to people where they can discover and create authentic content by connecting the local as well as the global community. Yet, such a platform would give rise to safety concerns where users due to their diversity of views may be tempted to create content that may be deemed inappropriate and not liked by other users. Hence the webinar outlined the safety policies and features that TikTok has strived to provide its users since its launch in May 2017. These include putting restrictions on the platform about who can send messages to other TikTok users, introducing and enforcing community guidelines that form the code and conduct for a safe user environment – the community guidelines clearly explain what appropriate content is, made available in a number of languages across APAC, including Urdu. Jamin Tan explained that to ensure that these guidelines are followed, human moderation teams carry out checks with the help of sophisticated mechanisms and technologies to detect content that is inappropriate. The removal mechanism is quite aggressively followed if the content that gets flagged is deemed inappropriate for the markets it is created for. Outlining his experience as an established content creator, who has been creating content across different online platforms, Junaid Akram outlined how it is the responsibility of the users to utilise a platform to its potential, in a safe and appropriate way where no user feels unsafe because of fellow content creators. He spoke about the flak he got from his digital audience who outright dissuaded him from joining TikTok due to the kind of content that was seen on the platform. He highlighted how TikTok in other countries including UK, Singapore etc. is geared towards curating useful knowledgeable content that is meant to educate viewers – for instance providing photography tips through short videos etc. He also spoke about how he then decided to create informative content that would provide knowledge-based fun and historical facts, which started getting him phenomenal feedback from his audience. Based on his experience with other such user-generated content platforms, he agreed that since TikTok is not a native Pakistani platform, it took them some time to learn about the country’s cultural sensitivities. Yet once the company understood it, the people responsible for user safety at TikTok took it upon themselves to go an extra mile to curate their safety and community guidelines accordingly. Now, videos with even the slightest safety concern or cultural inappropriateness get flagged. Not just this, the TikTok team has made itself very accessible and easy for content creators to reach out to them, which is otherwise unheard of. The discussion culminated in Jehan Ara giving some insightful comments about how Pakistani content creators, especially youngsters are also following responsible content creation ethics and producing 15 to 30 seconds of interesting educational videos on how to set up devices, creating art etc. using techniques like animation etc. According to her, this has given youngsters the opportunity to express themselves, developing their self-confidence and personalities in the process. On behalf of TikTok, she said that the platform not only works through mechanisms like parental controls, rather it is using AI to ensure that any such content that is not supposed to be watched by the 13 to 16 age bracket is removed or not allowed at all on the platform, affirming that all that is curated is safe for consumption across the board. TikTok has been banned twice in Pakistan in the last one year over concerns over the nature of its content. How far these discussions will go in convincing the audiences that it is safe for users, only time will tell.