TikTok is feeding misinformation to users seeking news about politics, climate change, Covid-19, the war in Ukraine and more, according to a report published Wednesday.

Toxicity and false claims are a “significant threat” to TikTok, which is becoming a popular online destination for young people to find information, according to a study by NewsGuard, a media watchdog.

NewsGuard describes itself as a “journalism and technology tool” that assesses the credibility of websites and online information.

“Even though TikTok’s search results were almost entirely free of misinformation, they were often more polarizing than Google’s,”

NewsGuard reported its findings.

READ ALSO: Challenge the statue! Ama2000s are dominating TikTok with a new trend

In September, NewsGuard analyzed the top 20 results from 27 news-related searches on TikTok, finding that 19.5 percent of suggested videos contained false or misleading claims, the report said.

The researchers said they compared the results of TikTok and Google for information on school shootings, abortion, Covid-19, the US election, Russia’s war against Ukraine and other news.

According to NewsGuard, the false or misleading claims in the results included conspiracy theories promoted by QAnon and alleged home prescriptions for hydroxychloroquine, a prescription drug used to treat malaria and lupus.

How is TikTok a disinformation channel?

TikTok claims that the methodology used in the analysis is flawed and considers combating misinformation a priority.

“Our Community Guidelines make it clear that we do not tolerate harmful misinformation, including medical misinformation, and we will remove it from the platform.”

This was stated by the spokesperson of TikTok in response to an AFP request.

“We partner with authoritative voices to promote authoritative content on health-related topics, and we partner with independent fact-checkers who help us assess content accuracy.”

ALSO READ: Who Is Trevor Noah’s ‘TikTok Girlfriend’ Elise Chizek?

Testifying Wednesday at a Senate hearing on the impact of social media on national security, Twitter’s former senior vice president of engineering, Alex Rather, said the Chinese government is an investor in TikTok’s parent company, Bytedance, and that it has incentives to maximize profits and user engagement.

“TikTok’s Algorithm Promotes Educational, Tech, and Math Content to Chinese Youth While Promoting Twerking Videos, Misinformation, and Other Disruptive Content to American Children.”

Rather told the senators.

Retter said in his opening remarks that social media companies benefit from online content that gets attention, despite the harmful effects it can have on society.

“Our Terms of Service and Community Guidelines are designed to help deliver our vision of a safe and authentic experience.”

TikTok Chief Operating Officer Vanessa Pappas said at the hearing.

“Our policy has zero tolerance for misinformation, violent extremism and hate.”

© Agence France-Presse

ALSO READ: TikTok to pilot 50 free Wi-Fi hotspots in South Africa

Source by [author_name]