TikTok: The Next Social Media Platform Awash with Disinformation


News Analysis by Carol Almonte

TikTok, a social media platform popular with children and teenagers for making and sharing funny videos, is suffering from the same misinformation virus as other social media platforms. 

According to Poynter’s article, “Misinformation makes its way to TikTok” by Cristina Tardáguila, Daniel Funke and Susan Benkelman, many fact-checking experts have expressed concern about the growing amount of false content on TikTok. Misinformation has been found in posts on politics, the anti-vaccination movement, and climate change, and included attacks on Swedish environmental activist Greta Thunberg. 

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese firm ByteDance, has responded and now says it does not accept political advertisements. Additionally, the company said it would create a committee of specialists to advise on a broad scope of themes, such as “child safety, hate speech, misinformation, bullying, and other potential issues.”

But to stay ahead of misinformation, TikTok may need to do more. Two U.S. senators, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton, have already approached the U.S. intelligence community to assess TikTok’s national security risks. Among their worries is that TikTok is a “potential target of foreign influence campaigns like those carried out during the 2016 election on U.S. based social media platforms.”

Although its mission is to “inspire creativity and build joy,” young people do discuss meaningful topics like political issues on TikTok and ignoring fake content will not make it go away.

The Takeaway: TikTok is just the latest platform to attract misinformation and should not fly under anyone’s radar just because it’s used primarily by children and teenagers.