How Tiktok promotes misinformation about brands – Report

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THE News Guard’s misinformation monitor has revealed that Tiktok, a video-sharing platform, is breeding false claims about prominent brands in the world.

The study which was published in July stated that AI-generated or manipulated media are being used to spread misinformation about some popular brands on the platform.

The study used nine brands, including Anheuser-Busch, Barilla, Bud Light, Chick-fil-A, Heineken, Kohl’s, and Target, which have faced political criticism or boycotts as sample.

Part of the report read, “NewsGuard found that videos that shared misinformation about these brands were cumulatively viewed 57 million times. Nearly half of the views were for videos that used AI-generated or otherwise manipulated media to advance misinformation. 

”In total, NewsGuard analyzed 520 TikTok videos and found that 14 percent, or 73 videos, contained false, misleading, or unsubstantiated claims targeting the brands themselves. These video search results were generated by analyzing the top 20 results of 26 keyword searches related to brands based in the U.S. and Europe.”

According to the report, TikTok’s search engine played a significant role in spreading misinformation. The platform suggested keywords that led users to brand-related conspiracy theories and false information. 

The report stated that TikTok’s guidelines state that they prohibit misinformation causing significant harm to individuals or society but the policy does not extend to commercial or reputational harm. When NewsGuard brought these findings to TikTok’s attention, they removed only two out of the 18 videos shared with them, which is a concerning response.

According to the report, the misinformation on TikTok has fueled animosity towards brands, with users participating in online debates and calling for boycotts based on false claims. For instance, a video claimed that Target was selling “tuck-friendly” bathing suits for LGBTQ+ children, leading to a backlash against the retailer. However, Target has never sold such products for children.

The report stated that misinformation was also spread through digitally manipulated images and AI-generated content such as AI-generated photos falsely depicted Target selling satanic clothing and conspiracy theories about brands.

TikTok’s policy requires clear disclosure for manipulated media, but many of the identified videos lacked such indications according to the report. 

The report stressed the need to address misinformation on platforms like TikTok, given its increasing influence on young audiences and its potential to tarnish the reputation of brands through false claims and manipulated content.

Nurudeen Akewushola is a fact-checker with FactCheckHub. He has authored several fact checks which have contributed to the fight against information disorder. You can reach him via [email protected] and @NurudeenAkewus1 via Twitter.

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