‘Misinformation on TikTok is a whole different beast’: How publishers are tackling the Ukraine-Russia war disinformation problem on TikTok
Misinformation ricochets around the internet during any world event or political conflict — that’s nothing new — but TikTok poses new challenges, thanks to an algorithm that doesn’t favor breaking news and how it limits users’ interactions with each other. So when misleading videos or false accounts of what’s happening on the ground in Ukraine get posted as the war with Russia unfolds, they can circulate quickly thanks to their shock value and go unchecked indefinitely.
Per usual, news publishers like CBS News, NowThis, The New York Times, The Washington Post and Vice World News are being as diligent as possible to cover stories truthfully, but they’re taking further steps on TikTok — like hosting Q&As and regularly featuring reporters to familiarize their audiences with a trusted face — to address, and in some cases disprove, the viral content of missile attacks and soldiers parachuting into war that young audiences are reacting to on the platform.
Sometimes this includes reposting the misinformation and decoding what about it makes it false:
But other times, the strategy for getting more engagement and views on factual information is a bit more involved. First, let’s get into why TikTok has a unique impact on the dissemination of disinformation.
The TikTok problem
TikTok has become a habitual app for many young, mobile-first audiences, and the Ukraine-Russia conflict is the first time that many of those users are being exposed to first-hand accounts and surveillance footage of warfare as it unfolds. Because of the constant flow of coverage, it also makes it particularly difficult for those audiences to stay up-to-date with the latest information or to take the time to assess whether or not the footage they’re seeing is true or accurate.
Christiaan Triebert works on the visual investigations team at The New York Times, which is responsible for verifying videos and images of different world events that are uploaded to the internet, particularly social media. He was one of the first members of the team, which was formed in 2017 and before that, he worked at Bellingcat, a company that focused entirely on social video verification.
Having spent nearly a decade learning how to spot fake videos and images online, Triebert said …read more