Tiktok announced in a blog post that it is all set to launch an in-app election guide to combat misinformation. With about a 100 million monthly active US users Tiktok has increasingly become a platform for political content. It confronts the challenge of protecting users against misinformation and platform abuses ahead of its first US presidential election. The platform has witnessed a surge of conspiracy theory content related to the pandemic on the as of late and this guide is in response to this problem. Just this month Reuters found videos containing false claims about mail-in voting and presidential candidates, which were duly removed when flagged.
Its primary focus will be to give users access to information about federal, state, and local candidates and how to vote from the voting information tool, BallotReady. CEO of BallotReady, Alex Niemczewski said “On TikTok we’re seeing how people, especially younger voters, are passionate about important issues and are ready to make their voices heard,”. He went on to say they are partnering with TikTok for their elections guide “because younger voters often do not realize everything that will appear on their ballot, and we believe that TikTok can help them vote their entire ballot.”
This guide is accessible on TikTok’s discover page and also when certain electing related searches are made by users. Tiktok plans to make it available in various languages in addition to English and aims to include educational videos about media literacy and the elections process from the digital literacy project MediaWise. In order to make the guide more inclusive it will also be providing resources catering to voters with disabilities, those voting from over seas and voters with prior convictions.
Under Trump’s administration Tiktok has been under fire over concerns of the apps use of user data. In early August President Trump had published executive orders targeting Tiktok which would make installing it impossible in the United States. Trump also hinted at permanent ban citing security reasons and said that Tiktok could avoid such a ban by selling to a US company. Keeping this tension in mind part of the blogpost that announced the platforms decision to launch an election guide, Tiktok reiterated its commitment to ‘keep TikTok a place where authentic content can thrive’. It stressed that the ‘elections guide is built with user privacy in mind’ and would not affect future in-app experiences such as advertisements.