The Challenges of Tracking How Political Misinformation Might Spread on TikTok

Social media platforms have become a mainstay for people that want to stay up to date with the news. Quite a few people out there rely on social media as their one and only tool for keeping up with the world around them, and since TikTok is perhaps the most popular social media platform in the world right now it is essential to try to understand how information is consumed as well as how political misinformation works on the platform.

With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that tracking misinformation on a platform like TikTok can be exceedingly challenging. For one thing, pretty much all of the content on TikTok is in audiovisual form. That means that there is no real way to simplify the process and instead people might need to start relying on actually watching the content which would invariably use up several hours of time and a lot of effort would have to put into noting down what is said.

Another challenge that might be faced has to do with the fact that many of the people using TikTok don’t speak in simple English. Instead, they tend to use a lot of jargon because of the fact that this is the sort of thing that could potentially end up creating a sense of community as well as embedding them within online culture as a whole. Deciphering this jargon can be a challenge since different things can be interpreted differently and it’s tough to program and AI to decipher such things in time.

Suffice it to say that keeping track of the various ways in which misinformation can spread on social media is a massive endeavor with all things having been considered and taken into account. A framework needs to be created which lists down the various things that people need to be on the lookout for, and some more robust reporting methodologies need to be put in place as well. Tracking misinformation can also require a fair bit of coding knowledge so that it can become more accurate.

TikTok in particular is a challenging platform in this regard as well since sorting through content is a bit more difficult than it is on other types of platforms. For example, if you wanted to search for older content, you would be limited to content that has been posted over the last six months. Nothing beyond that would be searchable, and what’s more is that the content in the recommended page is ranked by the number of likes instead of views or comments.

That means that if you wanted to go through comments to measure the spread of political disinformation you might not be able to take the crucial first step in that regard. Said first step would likely require you to locate the videos with the most comments in the first place which would not be all that easy to do when TikTok doesn’t allow people to search for videos like those. The platform needs to make it easier for researchers to sift through its content because it is quite quickly becoming a hub for fake news and the like.

H/T: TC.

Read next: TikTok to rank as the third-largest social network of 2022, ahead of Snapchat and Twitter
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