March 30 2022, 10:20 am

TikTok Algorithm Rapidly Showing Users Misinformation on Ukraine War

UK media is report­ing on how the Tik­Tok algo­rithm quick­ly directs users to dis­in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the Ukraine war. Accord­ing to a report in The Guardian:

A new Tik­Tok account can be shown false­hoods about the Ukraine war with­in min­utes of sign­ing up to the app, accord­ing to an inves­ti­ga­tion by anti-mis­in­for­ma­tion out­let News­Guard. The com­pa­ny, which mon­i­tors the trust­wor­thi­ness of news out­lets across the web, ran a pair of tests to assess how the video-shar­ing app treat­ed infor­ma­tion about the con­flict. It found that a new account that did noth­ing but scroll the app’s algo­rith­mi­cal­ly curat­ed For You Page watch­ing videos about the war would be fun­nelled towards false or mis­lead­ing con­tent with­in 40 min­utes. “Toward the end of the 45–minute exper­i­ment, ana­lysts’ feeds were almost exclu­sive­ly pop­u­lat­ed with both accu­rate and false con­tent relat­ed to the war in Ukraine – with no dis­tinc­tion made between dis­in­for­ma­tion and reli­able sources,” the research team wrote. “At a time when false nar­ra­tives about the Rus­sia-Ukraine con­flict are pro­lif­er­at­ing online, none of the videos fed to our ana­lysts by TikTok’s algo­rithm con­tained any infor­ma­tion about the trust­wor­thi­ness of the source, warn­ings, fact-checks, or addi­tion­al infor­ma­tion that could empow­er users with reli­able infor­ma­tion.” A Tik­Tok page shows rows of videos all fea­tur­ing a close­up shot of the same woman. Among the false claims shown to the researchers was the myth that the US has bioweapon lab­o­ra­to­ries in Ukraine, and the accu­sa­tion that Putin was “pho­to­shopped” on to footage of a press con­fer­ence he gave in ear­ly March. Videos also claimed that fake footage was real, and that real footage was fake: videos pur­port­ed­ly of the “Ghost of Kyiv” shoot­ing down Russ­ian jets were tak­en from a video game, while real videos from the war were decried as fake by pro-Russ­ian accounts. “Some of the myths in the videos TikTok’s algo­rithm fed to ana­lysts have pre­vi­ous­ly been iden­ti­fied as Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da,” the researchers said, by the organisation’s Rus­sia-Ukraine Dis­in­for­ma­tion Track­ing Center.

Read the rest here.

Ear­li­er this month, the Glob­al Influ­ence Oper­a­tions Report (GIOR) report­ed on how Tik­Tok was fail­ing to con­trol Krem­lin pro­pa­gan­da on Its increas­ing­ly pop­u­lar platform.


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