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TikTok ‘Sounds’ Used to Spread COVID-19 Vaccine Misinformation: Think Tank

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

The London-based Institute for Strategic Dialogue analysed 124 movies that used speech from 4 unique TikTok movies, together with two that had 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,” stated 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 in the course of the pandemic.

Viral traits 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 progress in the course of the pandemic, stated it evaluations the audio of rule-breaking movies and will forestall these getting used as Sounds by different customers. It stated these instances had been attributable to human content material moderation errors. It additionally stated Sounds might be reported on the app.

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

TikTok stated it had beforehand restricted the distribution of movies utilizing this Sound, moderately 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 seen a complete of 16.7 million occasions.

ISD discovered lots of the movies used the Sound to sign help for the assertion. TikTok stated it took down a number of the movies utilizing the Sound and made the Sound tougher to seek out in searches after reviewing the report’s findings. It eliminated the three different Sounds recognized within the report.

“We try 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 stated.

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

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

© Thomson Reuters 2021

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