TikTok Announces New Policies to Combat Misleading Information on Its Platform, Ban Deepfakes, and Flag Election Disinformation

On Wednesday, TikTok announced a series of new steps to better detect and delete misleading information from its platform as the United States tech companies weigh a possible takeover offer for the popular video-sharing application. The short-video sharing app is also working with experts from the United States Homeland Security Department to protect against foreign influence. It is interesting to note that some experts identify ByteDance-owned TikTok as a distribution platform for pro-China propaganda since the parent company, ByteDance, is based in China. Obviously, the company is very keen to pushback against it.

According to TikTok, the company has already placed measures to combat misleading information that could cause harm to its community. With these new rules, the company aims to better clarify what type of content is allowed on TikTok’s platform and what is not allowed, broaden the fact-checking partnerships of the applications ahead of the United States presidential election, and ban deepfakes.

Furthermore, the company has also introduced an in-app reporting option for election disinformation. This feature will allow people to quickly report content or TikTok accounts for review. The company claims to have worked with several experts including the CFITF (Countering Foreign Influence Task Force, run by the DHS, to help tackle the foreign influence threat on the upcoming US presidential elections.

The company also notes that TikTok doesn’t accept political advertisements, as the company stated that the nature of these ads do not fit with the experience people expect on the TikTok application.

The company also revealed that TikTok is expanding its partnerships with organizations such as Lead Stories and PolitiFact to better fact-check misleading information about the 2020 United States Presidential election. Previously, these organizations were focused to fact-check other types of content such as those related to misinformation about the coronavirus pandemic or climate change.

But the ability of these fact-check organizations to actually find and fact-check misinformation can be challenging since users frame much of this type of content as ‘just my opinion.’ This issue is not unique to TikTok since social platforms in general struggle with the line between misleading information and free speech.

TikTok’s recent announcements are in line with what most other social media platforms are implementing and make sense, however, it is slightly different in the case of TikTok because of the position it is in concerning the company’s connections with China.

Since TikTok is a Chinese owned business, it is bound by the cybersecurity laws of China to share the platform’s data with CCP on request. Although the company has repeatedly said that it does not share data with CCP, TikTok cannot state that it will not have to provide data in the future, because it will share data if requested. This is the reason why the United States government is pushing for TikTok to be separated from its Chinese roots.

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