Earlier this month, the Cyberspace Administration of China published summaries of 30 core algorithms belonging to two dozen of the country’s most influential internet companies, including TikTok owner ByteDance Ltd., e-commerce behemoth Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and Tencent Holdings Ltd., owner of China’s ubiquitous WeChat super app.
The milestone marks the first systematic effort by a regulator to compel internet companies to reveal information about the technologies powering their platforms, which have shown the capacity to radically alter everything from pop culture to politics. It also puts Beijing on a path that some technology experts say few governments, if any, are equipped to handle.
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The public versions of the filings explain in plain language what types of data a given algorithm uses and what it does with the data. In many instances, they provide less detail than what Facebook voluntarily discloses to users about how it ranks content in its news feed.