Tiktok explicitly bans deepfakes, updates policy in attempt to combat misinformation

Tiktok has rolled out updates to its policy in an attempt to combat misinformation, which the platform acknowledged “can have real world harm, and is antithetical to building a trust-based community where authentic interactions can thrive”.

Mumbrella can reveal that a soon-to-be-published blog post by the company’s regional director of trust and safety unveils the explicit prohibition of manipulated content like deepfakes on the video platform.

While such content was already covered by Tiktok’s guidelines, the new, clear policy is a measure to “make our policies easier to understand for our users”. The business is also expanding its team responsible for identifying and removing misinformation.

A group of global third party fact checkers will be reviewing content across 16 languages and removing any videos that are confirmed to be false or misleading.

“In recent years, we’ve seen social platforms – including TikTok – grow to become a major source of entertainment, expression and information,” acknowledged Arjun Narayan Bettadapur Manjunath, director of trust and safety across the Asia Pacific region.

“At the same time, we have seen rising concern around the risk of false or misleading information being propagated online, whether in the form of inaccurate medical information, conspiracy theories, or even influence campaigns waged by state or non-state actors to change public opinion on matters of importance.

“We recognise the responsibility we have as a platform and as an industry to protect against the spread of false information and influence campaigns. While TikTok isn’t the go-to app for news content, our users value authentic content and so do we, which is why we have continued to invest in efforts to actively identify misinformation and to prevent inauthentic behavior such as deliberate interference in civic processes.”

Competitor Facebook has been repeatedly criticised for alleged election interference, acknowledging its “responsibility to stop abuse and election interference on our platform“, and Google has also recently updated its ad policies ahead of the upcoming US presidential election. Former Facebook executive Andrew Bosworth said earlier this year: “So was Facebook responsible for Donald Trump getting elected [as US president]? I think the answer is yes, but not for the reasons anyone thinks. He didn’t get elected because of Russia or misinformation or Cambridge Analytica. He got elected because he ran the single best digital ad campaign I’ve ever seen from any advertiser. Period.”

Tiktok is currently in the midst of negotiating a deal with Microsoft, which would see Microsoft take charge of Tiktok’s operations in the US and possibly Canada, Australia and New Zealand after Trump announced plans to ban the social media company.

Data security concerns are at the heart of criticism against Tiktok, but the business has maintained it’s ‘fun’, ‘safe’, and ‘independent’ and begged in a full page newspaper ad last month to not be used as a “political football”.

The full page ad (Click to enlarge)

The company’s new policy update also includes clarity around influence campaigns, and reads: “Do not engage in coordinated inauthentic activities (such as the creation of accounts) to exert influence and sway public opinion while misleading individuals, our community or the larger public about the account’s identity, location or purpose.”

And the blog post promises that Tiktok will “continue to consult with a wide range of industry experts, academics and civil society organisations to seek guidance on improving our policies”.

“We will share with experts the details of our methodology on crafting policies to help them understand the challenges and opportunities,” it reads.

“Through their understanding of our approach, they will be able to help us arrive at better solutions.

“At the same time, we recognise the importance of finding solutions which will best serve our users in their local contexts. In line with this, we will continue to welcome collaboration with other industry players and regulators. This includes working with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), towards the development of a draft industry code of conduct on misinformation, which is due for release later this year.”

The post added that there will be more steps to come, because Tiktok is “committed to building a safe platform on which our trust-based community can express themselves freely”.

Last month, Tiktok’s CEO Kevin Mayer slammed Facebook – which two weeks ago launched Tiktok competitor ‘Reels’ on Instagram – for “maligning attacks disguised as patriotism”.


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