TikTok has shared a new update on its election integrity measures, and how it’s preparing to counter the spread of misinformation in its app, which has become a key weapon in more recent polls around the world.
As per TikTok:
“With more than 2 billion people in over 50 countries expected to go to the polls this year, we are deeply invested in protecting the integrity of elections on TikTok. Over the last 4 years, we’ve worked to protect our platform through over 150 elections around the world. Today, we’re sharing an overview of our continued investment to ensure that TikTok continues to be a creative, safe, and civil place for our community in a historic elections year.”
First off, TikTok’s planning to launch dedicated election centers for each of the major polls, which will highlight critical information from trusted providers, and help to dispel false reports.
TikTok says that it will partner with electoral commissions and fact-checking organizations around the world to build these in-app election hubs, which will showcase relevant information to potential voters.
“Our local Election Centers reached over 55 million people globally last year. In the coming days, we will launch our US Elections Center, in partnership with nonprofit Democracy Works. The Center will provide our 150M+ US community members with reliable voting information for all 50 states and Washington, DC.”
The idea is that by providing a central, vetted space for election info, that will give users a place to verify reports, while also providing critical updates.
TikTok says that it’ll direct users to relevant elections centers via prompts on relevant election content and searches.
In terms of fact-checking, which has become a more contentious element of election discourse, TikTok says that it’ll continue to partner with fact-checking organizations around the world “to deliver engaging media literacy campaigns about misinformation, identifying AI-generated content, and more”.
The latter, in particular, is set to become a bigger concern in 2024, because nobody knows just how much of an impact generative AI tools are going to have on election discourse.
Several U.S. politicians have already employed misleading tactics, through the use of generative AI, including simulated visuals, video, and audio, in order to imply things that never happened, and smear opponents.
On this front, TikTok was the first platform to put rules in place around the labeling of AI-generated content, while it’s also partnering with a range of experts to navigate the new AI risks.
TikTok also requires all official government, politician, and political party accounts to be verified in the app, adding more assurance and trust, while it’ll also continue to label content that its fact-checkers determine as unsubstantiated throughout the app.
“We partner with 17 global fact-checking organizations, who assess the accuracy of content in over 50 languages so that our moderators can apply our misinformation policies accordingly. We added three new global fact-checking partners in 2023, and will continue to expand our fact-checking program this year.”
Finally, TikTok’s set to launch a new “covert influence operations report”, in order to provide more external insight into the threats faced, and how it’s working to counter each.
Which remains a significant concern. Just today, Google has outlined how a Russian-based hacking group continues to push its influence campaigns across various foreign regions. Chinese originated operations also continue to test adversarial groups, and with major initiatives like this still seeking to sway voters, they do require specific focus and oversight, as their tactics continue to shift.
But then again, TikTok itself is viewed by many as a threat along the same lines. That’s why the app continues to face scrutiny from officials in various regions, which is also why TikTok’s specific election integrity efforts are so important.
Because any perceived bias will be amplified in the case of TikTok, and viewed through the lens of the Chinese Government’s perceived influence on the app.
Which remains an existential threat, but right now at least, TikTok’s saying all the right things, and implementing more measures to protect elections around the world.