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TikTok bans political ads ahead of US midterm elections

TikTok has rolled out an "Elections Center" that will help users know how and where to vote, and feature videos intended to encourage people to think critically about online content

TikTok on Wednesday rolled out its battle plan against the deluge of misinformation expected to accompany the upcoming US midterm elections, a problem tech firms largely decide themselves how to handle.

The November contest that will decide who controls Congress will generate innocently shared false information as well as deliberate attempts to mislead on the major social media networks — which have begun announcing how they will fight back.

TikTok began reminding users that its ban on political ads includes videos that people are paid to create for the platform, head of US safety Eric Han said in a blog post.

“If we discover political content was paid for and not properly disclosed, it is promptly removed from the platform,” Han said.

Read more: US senators hit out at TikTok over Russian propaganda

TikTok has rolled out an “Elections Center” that will help users know how and where to vote, and feature videos intended to encourage people to think critically about online content, he added.

The widely popular video sharing app will add links to its Elections Center to content identified as being related to the midterm elections along with accounts belonging to governments, politicians or political parties.

TikTok will use automated systems and human fact-checkers to assess the accuracy of content, prompting users to “reconsider” sharing posts with unsubstantiated information, Han said.

Fair Election Center’s Campus Vote Project, one of the organizations working with TikTok, is helping provide information for registering and voting, said national director Mike Burns.

“We saw historic youth and student voter turnout in the 2018 and 2020 elections,” Burns said.

TikTok has emerged as a top social media platform for US teens, according to a recent Pew Research report.

Facebook parent Meta this week said that the safeguards it is putting in place for the midterms will build on lessons learned.

“As we did in 2020, we have a dedicated team in place to combat election and voter interference while also helping people get reliable information about when and how to vote,” Meta president of global affairs Nick Clegg said Tuesday in a blog post.

Meta security operations will fight foreign interference and domestic influence campaigns, and include new measures to help keep poll workers safe, Clegg said.

Meta will remove misinformation about the voting process, poll results or the integrity of balloting and prohibit new election-related ads during the final week in the campaign, he added.

Read more: TikTok will survive Donald Trump, US users say

“We are once again prepared to respond to content discussing the integrity of the election by applying labels that connect people with reliable information,” Clegg said.

AFP with additional input by GVS News Desk