In a couple of brief years, TikTok has grown into one of many fastest-growing social networks on the planet — and with the 2022 midterm election cycle heating up, the app is now getting ready to tackle the maddening downside of election misinformation.
In a Wednesday weblog put up, TikTok’s head of US security, Eric Han, outlined how the corporate plans to fight the specter of dangerous misinformation. First, TikTok will start rolling out its Election Heart this week with the intention to present authoritative voting data within the coming weeks and outcomes from the Related Press as soon as they’re reported. TikTok says it should hyperlink out to the Election Heart by means of labels positioned on midterm-related content material, together with movies posted by governments, candidates, and political events.
Whereas TikTok banned paid political promoting in 2019, Han mentioned the platform is increasing the coverage to ban paid influencer content material. All through the 2020 election cycle, marketing campaign and political teams, together with the Biden-Harris marketing campaign, collaborated with influencers throughout platforms to succeed in voters who had been spending extra time on-line because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“TikTok doesn’t permit paid political advertisements, and that features content material influencers are paid to create,” Han mentioned within the Wednesday weblog put up.
However in a report final summer time, the Mozilla Basis discovered that political influencers on TikTok continued to put up partisan advertisements in brand-like sponsorships with political teams, regardless of the ban. TikTok famous the disparity in a post-election report final 12 months and now plans to publish new academic content material for creators and administration firms explaining its guidelines prohibiting paid political collaborations. Nonetheless, influencers aligned with political teams, like Turning Level USA, could not obtain fee for branded content material, as a substitute receiving occasion invites and networking alternatives. Requested if the ban utilized to those unpaid partnerships, Han confirmed that it didn’t.
TikTok solely started to realize traction in america on the top of the 2018 midterms cycle with its $1 billion buy of Musical.ly that August. The app continued to develop in reputation all through the 2020 presidential election however has solely not too long ago develop into a social media staple main Fb, Instagram, and Twitter in Apple’s App Retailer charts as of publication. Round 67 % of US youngsters use TikTok, in response to a current Pew Analysis Heart report, and for longer durations of time than competing social media apps. The typical American consumer spends round 80 minutes per day on TikTok, doubling the period of time customers spend on Fb and Instagram, the analytics agency Sensor Tower present in a July report.
In a Tuesday briefing with reporters, TikTok officers pressured the corporate’s dedication to defending the integrity of US elections. “At TikTok, we’re very proud that folks come to our platform to share their very own tales, not solely that but additionally study different individuals’s tales as properly, and that would come with discussions about present occasions which are occurring round their world or of their world,” Han mentioned throughout the briefing. “Whereas people are discussing all these matters, like elections, it’s our job to satisfy any human problem and defending our neighborhood from hurt.”
With lower than 90 days earlier than the November elections, main tech platforms have already began making preparations. Final week, Twitter mentioned that it would deliver again its instruments to take down false and deceptive election data. Google got here to an settlement with the Federal Election Fee final week to launch a brand new program permitting for candidates and political teams to bypass Gmail’s spam filters, making certain their fundraising messages attain voter inboxes. In a Tuesday weblog put up, Fb’s father or mother firm, Meta, mentioned that its midterms method can be “per the insurance policies and safeguards” the platform instituted throughout the 2020 presidential election.
TikTok has continued to surge in reputation regardless of quite a few regulatory and political threats to ban the app within the US altogether. Former President Donald Trump repeatedly tried to take TikTok offline, citing nationwide safety issues. As a part of this effort, Trump signed a number of govt orders, together with one which sought to ban any transactions between US entities and TikTok’s father or mother firm Bytedance. Final summer time, President Joe Biden issued his personal order revoking the Trump administration ban and instructing the Commerce Division to analyze TikTok’s ties to Beijing.
To calm lawmaker issues, TikTok pursued a relationship with Oracle to deal with US consumer knowledge. However threats escalated after studies surfaced that Bytedance engineers in China had entry to US knowledge as late as January 2022. Addressing studies, TikTok CEO Shou Zi Chew wrote to Congress final month, offering new particulars on how the app limits Chinese language entry to US knowledge.
“We all know we’re among the many most scrutinized platforms from a safety standpoint, and we goal to take away any doubt concerning the safety of U.S. consumer knowledge,” Chew wrote.