TikTok And Facebook Approve Ads Filled With Political Misinformation, Claims New Study

The US midterm elections are fast approaching and that means the digital world is toughening up its act to combat issues linked to political misinformation.

And despite all the vows and promises made by leading tech giants to try and curb the situation, a new report is shedding light on how TikTok and Facebook actually allow ads to play that contain political misinformation.

The investigation was recently brought into the spotlight and conducted by one human rights group called Global Witness. In collaboration with the NYU team for Cybersecurity, the results provided some shocking findings.

Both Meta and TikTok are approving ads of this sort and it’s a massive violation of their own policies.

To help conduct the study, the researchers involved each submitted a total of 20 advertisements through fake profiles. These were directed toward the likes of Facebook, YouTube, and TikTok.

This is when the report found that 10 ads were in English and 10 in Spanish. Moreover, five comprised fake election details, and around five were aimed at delegitimizing the whole electoral process involved. A total of five states were targeted that are forecasted to have very close results.

And that’s when the research team found so many ads entailing incorrect details that would stop others from casting their votes. Details like where to vote, when to vote, and more were all incorrect and it goes to show how it can mislead so many users on the web that rely on such platforms. There were even incorrect methods of voting mentioned here.

TikTok And Facebook Fail to Detect Ads Related |To Election Disinformation, While YouTube Succeeds

The results generated from the research showed how Facebook did approve two very misleading advertisements on the app in English, while the same was done for five ads in the Spanish language. Meanwhile, TikTok was seen approving all of them in both languages, except for two.

But it was great to see the video platform YouTube block all of the ads that were running in this regard. Similarly, YouTube was seen banning the main accounts that researchers used for the ad submission. Two of the three fake accounts continue to function across Facebook while TikTok is yet to remove any of the fake accounts on its platform. We’d just like to point out that none of the ads were launched as of yet.

These results are awfully concerning for several reasons. Firstly, we are just a few weeks away from the upcoming major elections in the US. And if experiments are proving to be deleterious, just imagine what other effects can come into play in this regard.

And just when you thought YouTube was playing a decent role to combat such ads, well, guess what. It actually performed the worst in terms of all others when a similar experiment was carried out in Brazil. So plenty of work is required in other regions of the world.

But as far as the other two leading social media platforms are concerned, Meta’s Facebook and TikTok really need to take out some time and devise a strategy before it’s too late. This is a major event in the world of US politics and it’s shocking to see this type of behavior at this stage.

If things do move forward in this same manner, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that the app has a strong political influence on the minds of its users. For TikTok, matters could be much worse as it’s been accused of having several ties with government officials in China by US lawmakers.

Just this past week, the app was accused of tracking down US citizens’ GPS details and potentially being used as a spying tool. Although it rejected the allegations, all eyes are certainly on the app.

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