TikTok ‘Sounds’ Feature Used to Spread COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation, Think Tank Says

A TikTok characteristic that permits customers so as to add one other individual’s audio to their movies is getting used to advertise deceptive and dangerous content material about COVID-19 vaccines, a suppose tank mentioned in a brand new report.

The London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue analysed 124 movies that used speech from 4 authentic TikTok movies, together with two that have been eliminated by the corporate for breaking its COVID misinformation guidelines, to push misinformation and stoke fears about vaccine side-effects. The 124 movies had greater than 20 million views.

“There’s part of the content material which remains to be in a position to journey,” mentioned Ciaran O’Connor, an analyst on the counter-extremism suppose tank. He likened the unfold of misinformation although TikTok’s “Sounds” characteristic to WhatsApp audio messages that proliferated through the pandemic.

Viral tendencies the place customers create their very own movies by riffing off the identical music or speech clip are a central a part of TikTok. The favored social video platform, which noticed explosive development through the pandemic, mentioned it critiques the audio of rule-breaking movies and should forestall these getting used as Sounds by different customers. It mentioned these instances have been brought on by human content material moderation errors. It additionally mentioned Sounds could be reported on the app.

Audio from one video of a person implying the COVID vaccine’s quick growth made it unsafe and making deceptive comparisons to different sicknesses has been utilized in greater than 4,500 movies, ISD discovered.

TikTok mentioned it had beforehand restricted the distribution of movies utilizing this Sound, reasonably than take away it utterly, because it was solely deemed to be doubtlessly deceptive. Even so, the highest 25 movies on the TikTok web page for this Sound have been considered a complete of 16.7 million occasions.

ISD discovered most of the movies used the Sound to sign assist for the assertion. TikTok mentioned it took down a few of the movies utilizing the Sound and made the Sound harder to search out in searches after reviewing the report’s findings. It eliminated the three different Sounds recognized within the report.

“We attempt to advertise an genuine TikTok expertise by limiting the unfold of deceptive content material, together with audio, and selling authoritative details about COVID-19 and vaccines throughout our app,” a TikTok spokesperson mentioned.

ISD discovered the app had added labels directing to authoritative COVID data on solely two of the 124 movies. The corporate mentioned this was as a result of labels have been solely added on movies with particular hashtags.

TikTok final week introduced adjustments to its content-moderation methods for sure content material, shifting to completely automated reviewing methods for classes like nudity and violent or graphic materials.

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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