TikTok Ukraine war videos raise questions about spreading fake news

TikTok and other social media platforms are also under pressure from US lawmakers and Ukrainian officials to curb Russian disinformation about the war, especially from state-backed outlets such as Russia Today and Sputnik. In response, YouTube said it would block Russia Today and Sputnik in the European Union, while Twitter and Meta, Facebook’s parent company, said they would mark outlet content as state-sponsored. .

TikTok has also banned Sputnik and Russia Today in the EU, and said on Friday it would start labeling outlets as state-sponsored in countries where they are still available. The app also said on Thursday that it had devoted more resources to monitoring misleading war content.

“We continue to respond to the war in Ukraine with increased safety and security resources to detect emerging threats and remove harmful misinformation,” said TikTok spokesperson Hilary McQuaide.

For years, TikTok has largely escaped scrutiny for its content. Unlike Facebook, which has been around since 2004, and YouTube, which was founded in 2005, TikTok has only been widely used for the past five years. Owned by Chinese company ByteDance, the app was designed to make it easy to create and share one- to three-minute videos. It has developed a reputation as a destination for addictive, silly, and fun videos, especially for younger users.

The app has gone through some controversies in the past. He was faced with questions about harmful modes that appeared to come from his platform, as well as whether it allows underage users and adequately protects their privacy.

But the war in Ukraine has overblown the problems facing TikTok, which has more than a billion users worldwide.

The volume of war content on the app far exceeds what is found on some other social networks, according to a Times study. Videos with the #Ukrainewar hashtag have amassed nearly 500 million views on TikTok, with some of the most popular videos earning nearly a million likes. In contrast, the #Ukrainewar hashtag on Instagram had 125,000 posts, and the most popular videos were viewed tens of thousands of times.