TikTok to tackle misinformation with fact checkers and content warnings

Falling in line with the big social networking sites, TikTok is now attempting to tackle its spread of misinformation with in-app warnings and fact checkers.

While TikTok is all about fun and games, its insatiable rise to the top of mainstream culture now demands a more thorough look into the types of content spreading on its platform. Safety first people, safety first.

Chief on the list of concerns admist a global pandemic and political unrest is the spread of misinformation, which TikTok is at last targeting through a slew of future updates.

In the coming months, users will start to see display warnings on videos containing information unable to be verified by a dedicated team of fact-checkers. Depending on the video’s overall tone, message, and potential to inflame viewers, TikTok’s algorithm will either instantly limit its distribution or alert mods where it will be taken down completely.

Those relentless enough with their scrolling to find this type of content on their ‘For You’ page will notice it comes with a new warning label, reading, ‘Caution: video flagged for unverified content.’ Any attempt to re-share these videos will prompt an additional message stating that its information is dubious, and offer the up the option to cancel.

Wary of stifling people’s rights to free speech – beyond inciting violence or being intolerant – TikTok will allow flagged videos to be shared, but hopes that these new barriers may dissuade many from following through. In the initial stages, the key topics the platform is paying particular attention to are Covid-19, government elections, and climate change.

You’re probably wondering what the logistics of trawling through content on the most downloaded app of 2020 looks like. Unfortunately, we don’t have the answer. Regarding its methods of fact checking and how it deems videos to be worthy of review, TikTok is (again) keeping its cards close to its chest. It has, at least, revealed that its new features have been designed and tested by a behavioural science company called Irrational Labs.

Beyond this, a spokesperson has also stated that videos will not have to reach a certain level of popularity to come to the attention of its mods. Not even the Karens with five followers are exempt.

@tiktoktipsLearn helpful guidelines on when and how to spread information. Don’t unknowingly help spread false info! #TikTokTips♬ original sound – TikTok Tips

TikTok has called out a number of unsavoury trends in recent times, but in terms of taking up arms against misinformation, the platform is a tad late to the party.

In August, Facebook introduced restrictions to Covid-19 misinformation and out of date articles – quickly following up with limits to WhatsApp’s message forwarding function. Twitter now warns users before retweeting unverified ‘facts,’ and Google has started adding contextual info hints to be more transparent about its search results.

As the new kid on the block, TikTok will no doubt argue that it’s fashionably late.

If you’re reading this from the States of Canada, chances are you’ll start to see these changes in effect today (Feb 3).


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