As social media platforms struggle to get U.S. election misinformation under control with various levels of success, TikTok has taken new actions to cease individuals from looking and searching choose hashtags related to misinformation and conspiracies associated to the U.S. election outcomes.
The video app has redirected some hashtags — together with #RiggedElection, #SharpieGate and others — the place customers have been publishing election misinformation. And it has taken down various videos making claims of “election fraud.”
Nonetheless, based mostly on our scans of the app and different election-related hashtags at the moment, it’s clear that it’s nonetheless an uphill battle for TikTok by way of getting a deal with on violating content material.
Due to TikTok’s measurement and scale, even smaller movies from unknown publishers can rack up hundreds of views earlier than they disappear.
Media Issues, for instance, reported yesterday it was in a position to determine 11 examples of election misinformation spreading throughout TikTok, with greater than 200,000 mixed views. The movies shared conspiracies that ranged from unfounded “magic poll” narratives to the completely untrue allegations that Arizona ballot staff handed out markers to Trump voters so their votes wouldn’t rely.
TikTok says all of the movies Media Issues reported have since been eliminated besides one the place a person made a untimely declaration of victory. That one was shadowbanned — that means its discoverability on the platform was decreased. It additionally has a banner pointing to authoritative details about the election outcomes.
These particular person takedowns are a drop within the bucket in comparison with the variety of movies which are nonetheless on the market making claims of election fraud. And, to date, TikTok has solely eliminated a small variety of hashtags on this topic.
TikTok confirmed it has eliminated content material and redirected searches for the hashtag #RiggedElection as of yesterday. Now, while you attempt to discover movies flagged with this time period within the app, you’ll get to a clean web page with a notification that claims the search time period “could also be related to habits or content material that violates our pointers.” The web page additionally offers a hyperlink to TikTok’s Neighborhood Pointers.
“Selling a secure and optimistic expertise is TikTok’s high precedence,” the message reads.
This is identical playbook that TikTok recently used to address the spread of QAnon-related content on its platform. By redirecting searches and hashtags, it makes misinformation tougher to seek out.
Whereas TikTok declined to share an exhaustive checklist of hashtags it has taken motion on throughout the elections, we discovered a couple of hashtags that returned both no outcomes — like #RiggedElection and #SharpieGate — in addition to those who returned solely a small handful movies, or what TikTok considers “counter speech.”
The TikTok group will usually create movies with counter speech or different content material associated to a misinformation-related hashtag. In these movies, they’ll present factual info or will dispute the claims being made in one other video. TikTok says this kind of counter speech doesn’t violate its insurance policies. That’s why you might even see movies listed below hashtags that might in any other case be related to misinformation, versus seeing the hashtag totally silenced.
We additionally discovered some lesser-used hashtags like #RepealtheSteal and #VeritasArmy, which have been seen on Twitter, weren’t exhibiting on TikTok in any respect. (Nonetheless, upon reaching out to TikTok, the corporate selected to redirect these hashtags, too.)
A preferred misinfo hashtag, #StoptheSteal, was additionally not obtainable, however its variation, #StoptheStealing, had seven movies.
Many different hashtags had been getting used, too, as of the time of writing, together with #VoterFraud (and its misspelling #VoterFruad), #DemsCheat, #CorruptElection, #ElectionCorruption, #StoptheStealing, #ElectionFraud (and misspelling #ElectionFruad), #CrookedJoeBiden, #CrookedDems, #Fraud (and its misspelling #Fruad), #Rigged, #Rigged2020, #MailinBallots, #CoupdEtat, #ElectionMeddling, #DemocratsAreDestroyingAmerica and #BallotHarvesting, to call a couple of.
Whereas some hashtags had little content material, many had been crammed with movies that weren’t simply expressing their political beliefs — they had been making claims of election fraud. Mixed, these hashtags have tens of tens of millions of views, or much more.
For instance, after we looked for the hashtag #VoterFraud (20.9 million views), we first encountered movies posted within the months main as much as Election Day that had been responding to the Republican-driven claims of voter fraud related to mail-in ballots.
However many movies below this hashtag have been printed by Trump supporters this week, and are movies the place the supporters are immediately disputing the election outcomes.
Among the many movies we discovered had been these reposting movies TikTok had already taken down. These included movies that includes Trump supporters’ protests in opposition to or for the counting of ballots in varied states, calling them proof of election fraud.
In different movies, customers opine about how Trump’s lawsuits will show fraud occurred and win him re-election. They generally use screenshots of web site vote tallies as their “proof.”
We additionally noticed movies utilizing textual content labels overtop their video footage. The textual content was used to make their claims of election fraud, whereas the video itself could have them speaking in additional measured phrases about their disappointment with the election outcomes. (It’s unclear if this can be a viable workaround to avoiding rule enforcement, nonetheless.)
TikTok says its checklist of blocked hashtags regularly grows as new phrases and phrases emerge and it’s in a position to decide how the phrases are getting used on its platform. It additionally stated it block extra election misinformation hashtags within the hours, days and weeks to return.
To be clear, TikTok’s choice to maintain this kind of content material on-line doesn’t make it a lot totally different from different social networks.
Throughout election season, Fb and Twitter have taken to labeling election misinformation from high-profile accounts (like Trump’s). Fb even ran in-app notifications to inform users that votes are still being counted. However each platforms at the moment nonetheless simply permit customers to click on via on a variety of hashtags that promote this concept of election fraud or rigged outcomes.
TikTok could not a lot be doing a lot better, general, in addressing the sizable quantity of content material selling election misinformation on its video community. However TikTok’s ban of high election misinformation hashtags works in another way from hashtag bans on different social networks.
As soon as TikTok has made the choice to ban a time period like “SharpieGate,” for instance, the content material gained’t be surfaced whether or not you utilize the hashtag image (#) itself or not. Fb, however, could ban the hashtag particularly, however not the time period totally. Meaning you possibly can nonetheless discover content material about SharpieGate on its platform — even when it’s largely posts and movies from information organizations.
#SharpieGate was additionally among the hashtags Facebook began blocking today related to election misinformation. It additionally blocked #StoptheSteal and a associated group.