TikTok Bans Deepfakes, Expands Fact-Checking to Fight Election Misinformation
One of the world's biggest mobile apps is stepping into the ring to fight election interference: TikTok on Wednesday announced three new measures to combat misinformation during the final months of the 2020 presidential race.
Though not exactly the go-to platform for news and politics, TikTok boasts an estimated 800 million monthly active users, which makes it an easy target for spreading fake news. A three-fold plan, however, aims to combat disinformation via updated policies that better clarify what is and isn't allowed on the site; additional fact-checking partnerships and the ability to report false election reports; and an alliance with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to protect against foreign influence.
"Millions of Americans come to TikTok every day to express themselves freely and creatively," General Manager Vanessa Pappas wrote in a blog post. "People on our app value authentic content, and we do, too — which is why our teams work diligently to uphold our Community Guidelines and keep misleading, harmful or deceptive content and accounts off TikTok."
Among the new principles, users will find a more direct policy prohibiting synthetic or manipulated content that misleads by distorting the truth in a way that could cause harm — i.e. deepfake videos. The same goes for coordinated inauthentic behavior (people working together to mislead others) through the creation of accounts that exert influence or sway public opinion.
Using a mix of technology and human moderation, TikTok enforces its rules by removing content, banning accounts and making it difficult to find harmful content in recommendations or searches. It also does not accept political ads, which don't "fit with the experience" folks expect from the social network. Coming soon, as part of an in-app election information center, users can look for an option to report harmful content and accounts for review.
"Misinformation, disinformation and threats to civic engagement are challenges no platform can ignore," according to Pappas. "By working together as an industry with experts and civil society organizations, we can better predict the civic processes that are so essential to our users."