TikTok was “just a dance app”. Then came the Ukraine war
world leaders try to harness the influencers’ power for good, disinformation is possible because of the platform’s many features.
Many people said, invasion of Ukraine the first TikTok War. Experts believe it is now time to take the short video platform seriously, which was once well-known for its ridiculous lip syncs.
Some politicians do this. Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the Ukrainian president, appealed to TikTokers for a group that could end war in a speech. Joe Biden, the US’ most influential figure, gave a briefing last week to hundreds of people who are susceptible to disinformation.
Others continue to dismiss the platform as frivolous, even though world leaders are increasingly recognizing its legitimacy. The White House meeting was ridiculed in a skit on Saturday Night Live, and mocked relentlessly via Twitter while Republican senator Josh Hawley scolded Biden for asking “teenagers” to do his job.
Experts agree that this mentality is dangerous.
Abbie Richards, an independent researcher that studies TikTok, said that the app is often overlooked and deprioritized because people are not taking the time to learn it. It is a dance app, and many of the problems we see today are due to this false notion.
“Structurally incompatible” with the needs of the moment
TikTok’s Ukraine-related content has seen a surge since the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, with videos tagged #Ukraine reaching more than 30.5 billion views by 17 March. New York Times with accordance , Ukraine content on TikTok is more popular than that on platforms that are twice as large.
This dramatic increase in misinformation and disinformation has led to an influx. Videos of unrelated explosions were republished from Ukraine. Videogame media were used to create fake footage of real-life events. Russian propaganda was viral before it could ever be removed.
Richards stated, “We saw right away from the beginning of the conflict that TikTok wasn’t structurally compatible with the needs for the moment regarding disinformation.”
According to TikTok’s Shorenstein Center on Media paper TikTok Ten Features That Make the App Vulnerable: War in Ukraine and War on Ukraine Misinformation, TikTok has a few vulnerabilities that could make it more vulnerable to misinformation.
Its core features make it ideal for remixing media. Users can upload sound clips and videos without attribution, and the paper stated , making it difficult to factcheck and contextualize videos. Researchers added that this has created a digital environment in which it is “difficult – even for seasoned journalist and researchers – to discern truth form rumors, parody, and fabrication”.
Researchers say that the app’s design features make it easy to spread misinformation. Researchers say that users post mostly under pseudonyms. The date of the upload of videos is not displayed prominently, making it more difficult to contextualize the content. Furthermore, the newsfeed structure with every video taking up all of the screen makes it difficult for users to find additional sources.
Facebook’s user feed is mostly with content from friends, but TikTok’s page is largely composed of content from strangers determined by the company’s opaque algorithm.
Experts say that platform relies more on algorithms than a chronological feed, the more vulnerable it is to misinformation and disinformation because of content algorithms favor that is engaged.
Marc Faddoula, a researcher with the TikTok Observatory said that one thing is consistent across all platforms: algorithms are optimized for detecting and exploit cognitive biases to produce more polarizing content. He studies the platform’s content policies and researches them. “Disinformation is highly engaging for users, so is it more likely to appear in feeds.”Many have called the invasion
These problems are made worse by TikTok’s age and large size. The prone to deception as a world leader app was first launched in 2016, it is still relatively new and has seen rapid growth to reach 130m users in the US and more than 1bn worldwide. Although the app is smaller than Facebook (which has 230m US users and 2.9bn globally), it faces many of the same problems with less resources.the new york times
TikTok continues to grow after seeing usership soar during 2020’s pandemic-induced lockdowns, according Emily Dreyfuss (a Harvard researcher who co-authored this research paper), She said, “That was when we started to see a shift in what people thought was an app for teens to do viral dancing tricks to become a part of the cultural discussion.