TikTok executives visit Detroit, talk about future app safety plans and MI economic impact

Posted at 8:54 PM, Jul 09, 2024

DETROIT (WXYZ) — TikTok executives spent Tuesday morning in Detroit discussing how the app has had an impact on Michigan’s economy, and their plans to keep the platform safe. 

VIDEO: Full interview on how TikTok is impacting local business owners and the safety approach for its users

VIDEO: Full interview on how TikTok is impacting local business owners and the safety approach for its users

Head of Trust and Safety for TikTok, Suzy Loftus lead a round-table on the topics. Included were Michigan TikTok creators Jamal Jawad, Terrell Wade, Charlie Engelman, and Crystal Angel.

Among the safety initiatives discussed were TikTok’s family pairing feature which lets parents link their TikTok account to their teens, to choose a variety of privacy and well-being settings.

“A few things we have that are really important is we have default screen time limits for anyone under 18 it’s 60 minutes, if you’re 13 to 15 your account is private by default,” said Loftus.

She said the platform expects to invest more than $2 billion in trust and safety efforts in 2024 alone.

They’re initiatives that were encouraging for local creators like Jamal Jawad and Crystal Angel to learn about.

Jawad owns The Custard Company in Dearborn and told 7 News Detroit his business “blew up” after posting some videos of his ice cream creations on TikTok during the pandemic.

“I have goosebumps, I can’t tell you how much it’s helped our business,” said Jawad.

He said the app has in fact impacted much of Dearborn, “We have so many food reviewers now, so much new food content, everyone is trying new viral trending things. It’s helping us grow together. The world now knows that Dearborn is a food hub.”

Crystal Angel was working in health care during the pandemic.

She told us she turned to the app to start posting about her idea of creating a scrubs line that was fashionable and comfortable.

Her third video went viral.

“If you told me I would have started my own business I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Angel. “I was able to ship to over 35 countries, 6 continents, and I feel like without the app it’s hard to get those intentional orders.”

Loftus said in Michigan there are 3.7 million people actively using TikTok. She said it’s made a profound economic impact.

“So we have 165,000 small businesses on TikTok, that has resulted in an impact on the Michigan economy of adding $690 million, as well as 6,700 jobs.”