TikTok is losing its head of US trust and safety

3 May 2023

Image: © Chidori_B/Stock.adobe.com

Eric Han has been with TikTok since 2019 and has been leading a special subsidiary focused on US data protection policies.

TikTok’s head of trust and safety for its US operations is leaving the company, while the platform continues to face the threat of a nationwide ban.

Eric Han will be departing from his role on 12 May, according to two employees and a memo seen by The Verge.

Han joined TikTok in 2019 to oversee efforts such as content moderation, having previously worked as a safety policy manager for Twitter and a senior trust and safety manager for DigitalOcean.

Last December, Han became the head of TikTok’s US Data Security group, which is a separate subsidiary company focused on the organisation’s data protection policies in the country.

It appears Han’s specific role changed after he led this subsidiary, as a spokesperson told The Verge that his work focused largely on “compliance, safety strategies, and moderation for content involving US users’ private data.”

This spokesperson said TikTok’s global trust and safety team oversees the platform’s safety policies, processes and systems worldwide, with the head of this team based in Dublin.

TikTok pressures continue

The departure of a trust and safety executive comes at a chaotic period for TikTok. The company is facing a period of global scrutiny, due to concerns that the platform – owned by Chinese company ByteDance – might be sharing user data with the Chinese government.

The platform’s troubles are greatest in the US, as the country’s lawmakers have threatened to issue a full ban on TikTok, unless its parent company ByteDance sells its shares in the US version of the app.

A TikTok spokesperson told SiliconRepublic.com in February that a change in ownership isn’t a security solution as it “would not impose any new restrictions on data flows or access”.

The social media app is also facing a full ban in the US state of Montana, though TikTok has hinted it will take legal action against this decision.

Meanwhile, governments worldwide have banned the popular video sharing app from official work devices. Last month, Ireland’s security watchdog advised Government to not let its staff use TikTok on official devices due to cybersecurity concerns.

All members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing alliance – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the US – have banned the popular social media app on government devices.

A similar move was taken by the European Commission, while France also issued a government ban in March.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic