TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media platform, announced Wednesday that it will be restricting monetization and campaign financing features for political accounts as part of a new policy update. The app will also require verification for the accounts of governments, politicians and political parties in the US until the November midterm elections.
In a post on the company’s website, Blake Chandlee, TikTok’s president of global business solutions, said the changes are meant to ensure that the short-form video platform “remains a fun, positive and joyful experience.”
The platform, which has already banned political advertising, now says it will also remove advertising features from accounts belonging to candidates and political parties.
Some exceptions will apply, including for public health campaigns, like those calling on people to get their COVID-19 booster shots.
“We will continue to allow government organizations to advertise in limited circumstances, and they will be required to be working with a TikTok representative,” Chandlee wrote.
The app will also be removing access to “monetization features,” including e-commerce capabilities, from those accounts.
Chandlee said the company will target “solicitation for campaign fundraising” in the coming weeks by blocking videos where candidates and politicians ask for money, as well as content through which a political party invites people to donate on a campaign website.
The TikTok executive added that the verification requirement for political accounts is part of a trial the company is running in the US Verified accounts display a blue badge with a check mark next to their account names on the platform.
“By prohibiting campaign fundraising and limiting access to our monetization features and verifying accounts, we’re aiming to strike a balance between enabling people to discuss the issues that are relevant to their lives while also protecting the creative, entertaining platform that our community wants, Chandlee wrote.
TikTok, which was reportedly the most downloaded app during the first quarter of this year, has long faced questions about its connections to China and the Chinese Communist Party.
Last year, Beijing acquired a 1% stake and board seat on Tiktok’s parent company, Bytedance, according to Reuters.
Vanessa Pappas, the company’s chief operating officer, appeared last week before a Senate hearing about social media’s effects on homeland security. She told lawmakers that no one who “makes a strategic decision at this platform” is a CPP member, according to Forbes. She later said the company does not select staff members based on their political affiliations.
Former President Donald Trump tried to ban TikTok and another Chinese-owned app, WeChat, in the US via executive orders in 2020.
President Joe Biden dropped the orders when he took office, according to The Associated Press.