On TikTok, Election Misinformation Thrives Ahead of Midterms

TikTok’s design makes it a breeding ground for misinformation, researchers found. He wrote that videos can be easily manipulated and republished on platforms and displayed alongside stolen or original content. Nicknames are common; Parody and comedy videos are easily misinterpreted. Popularity affects the visibility of comments; And the release time and other details data are not clearly displayed on the mobile app.

(Researchers at the Shorenstein Center note that TikTok is less vulnerable to so-called bridging, in which groups coordinate to spread posts widely, than on platforms like Twitter or Facebook.)

In the first quarter of 2022, more than 60 percent of videos containing harmful misinformation were viewed by users before being removed, TikTok said. Last year, a group Behavioral scientist Those who worked with TikTok said that efforts to add warnings to posts containing unproven content reduced shares by 24 percent but limited views by only 5 percent.

Researchers said misinformation will continue to grow on TikTok as long as the platform refuses to release data about the origins of its videos or share insights into its algorithms. Last month, TikTok said it would provide some access to a version of its application programming interface, or API, this year, but wouldn’t say whether it would do so before the midterms.

Filippo Mencer, a professor of informatics and computer science and director of the Observatory on Social Media at Indiana University, said he had proposed a research collaboration to TikTok and was told, “Absolutely not.”

“At least Facebook and Twitter have some level of transparency, but we have no clue when it comes to TikTok,” he said. “Without resources, without being able to access the data, we don’t know who gets suspended, what content is removed, what reports they act on or what the criteria are. It is completely opaque and we cannot assess anything independently.”

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