TikTok bans weight-loss, fasting ads as ‘harmful content’

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Sept. 23 (UPI) — TikTok on Wednesday banned advertisements for fasting apps and weight loss supplements from its social media platform, citing the need to keep users safe from “harmful content and behavior.”

The short-form video app also moved to restrict ads it says “promote a harmful and negative body image.”

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“As a society, weight stigma and body shaming pose both individual and cultural challenges, and we know that the Internet, if left unchecked, has the risk of exacerbating such issues,” TikTok U.S. Safety Policy Manager Tara Wadhwa wrote in a blog post.

“That’s why we’re focused on working to safeguard our community from harmful content and behavior while supporting an inclusive — and body-positive — environment.”

The company said it’s concerned frequents ads for such products have a negative effect on teenage users — who comprise a good share of TikTok’s 49 million U.S. users.

Also Wednesday, new backlash emerged over a partnership that would allow TikTok to avoid being banned in the United States by President Donald Trump on national security grounds.

Trump’s orders have been delayed until Sunday to allow officials time to review the deal between TikTok and Oracle, which would create a new entity to control the the app’s U.S. operations.

The Chinese company ByteDance, which owns TikTok, would not have a controlling interest in the new firm known as TikTok Global, Trump said after giving preliminary approval to the deal last week.

Under its terms, Oracle and Walmart would have a combined 20% stake in the new company, with most stock owned by U.S. investors who would comprise four out of its five board members.

To allay concerns that ByteDance is giving user data to the Chinese government, the new firm’s operations would be based in the United States and Oracle would host the user data on its cloud platform.

But state-run Chinese media this week carried editorials blasting the terms of the deal, raising concerns that Communist Party officials may be lining up against it.

“What the United States has done to TikTok is almost the same as a gangster forcing an unreasonable and unfair business deal on a legitimate company,” state-run China Daily wrote in an editorial, noting that ByteDance would, in effect, have to surrender the app’s source code to Oracle.

“China has no reason to give the green light to such a deal, which is dirty and unfair and based on bullying and extortion.”

“It is clear that these [terms] extensively show Washington’s bullying style and hooligan logic,” the Global Times, also state-owned, added. “They hurt China’s national security, interests and dignity.”

“The U.S. suppresses [ByteDance] with all its national strength and forces it to sign a deal under coercion. China, also a major country, will not yield to U.S. intimidation and will not accept an unequal treaty that targets Chinese companies.”

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