November 23, 2022

TikTok displays high misinformation or misinformation, report says

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(CNN)– When a TikTok user searches the social media app for information on top news stories, ranging from Covid-19 vaccines to school shootings, nearly 20% of the videos presented as search results contain misinformation. , according to a investigative report released on Wednesday.

Researchers at NewsGuard, a journalism and technology tool that tracks online information, searched TikTok and Google this month for information on top news topics, such as the 2020 presidential election, the Russia-Ukraine war and abortion, to find Compare the disinformation offered by your search engines.

TikTok, whose users are predominantly teenagers and young adults, “repeatedly displayed videos containing false claims in the top 20 results, often within the top five,” the report states. “Google, by comparison, provided higher quality and less biased results, with much less misinformation.”

A Google spokesman declined to comment on the report to CNN.

The researchers searched for terms like “mRNA vaccine” and “2022 election,” as well as controversial news topics like “Uvalde tx conspiracy.” They analyzed 540 TikTok results and found that 105 videos, or 19.4%, contained false or misleading claims, according to the report.

According to the report, a TikTok search for information on politics, including the 2020 presidential election and the January 6, 2021 insurrection at the US Capitol, often included misinformation as well as references to conspiracy theories. QAnon. For example, a search for the question “Was the 2020 election stolen?” returned six videos containing false claims in the top 20 results, NewsGuard found.

NewsGuard researchers also found that TikTok’s search engine “is constantly feeding millions of young users misinformation about health, including some claims that could be dangerous to users’ health.” For example, a search for “does mugwort induce abortion?” shows more than a dozen results advocating unproven herbal abortion methods.

TikTok recently began removing abortion-related videos that violate its policy against medical misinformation, including those that share potentially dangerous advice on how to self-induce an abortion.

In response to the NewsGuard report, a TikTok spokesperson told CNN that its community guidelines “make it clear that we do not allow harmful misinformation, including medical misinformation, and will remove it from the platform. We partner with credible voices to elevate authoritative content.” on topics related to public health, and we partner with independent fact checkers who help us assess the accuracy of the content.”

TikTok’s ties to China under scrutiny

TikTok removed more than 102 million videos in early 2022 for violating its regulations, according to its Report on the Application of Community Regulations. But less than 1% of those videos were removed for violating the company’s “integrity and authenticity” guidelines, which include disinformation, according to NewsGuard’s review.

NewsGuard’s report came amid bipartisan concern in Washington that US user data could find its way to the Chinese government and be used to undermine US interests, due to a US national security law. country that requires companies based in the country to cooperate with data requests.

US officials have expressed fear that China could use Americans’ personal information to identify potentially useful intelligence agents or targets, or to inform future disinformation or misinformation campaigns.

In her appearance before the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, TikTok COO Vanessa Pappas declined to commit to cutting off US user data flows to China, promising instead that the outcome of her negotiations with the government US “will satisfy all national security concerns”.

TikTok does not operate in China, Pappas said, although it does have an office in that country. TikTok is owned by ByteDance, whose founder is Chinese and has offices in China.

“I’m surprised that TikTok is even worse than Google and worse overall as a platform than Facebook or Twitter when it comes to these things,” Steven Brill, founder of NewsGuard, told CNN.

Brill said the report’s findings are especially concerning given the company’s ties to China and the ease with which content on the app can be accessed by minors.

“We should take this as a warning. If you had kids of TikTok age, you’d certainly want to know what they’re using as a search engine,” Brill said. “I would be quite upset if they relied too much on Google and filed reports at school based on what they read on Wikipedia. But this takes it much further.”



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