Tag Archives: tiktok

TikTok Launches “Elections Center” To Combat Misinformation



TikTok announced its midterms Election Center will go live in the app in the U.S. starting August 17, 2022, where it will be available to users in more than 40 languages, including English and Spanish, TechCrunch reported.

According to TechCrunch, the new feature will allow TikTok users to access state-by-state election information, including details on how to register to vote, how to vote by mail, how to find your polling place and more, provided by TikTok partner NASS (the National Association of Secretaries of State).

TikTok also newly partnered with Ballotpedia to allow users to see who’s on their ballot, and is working with various assistance programs – including the Center for Democracy in Deaf America (for deaf voters), the Federal Voting Assistance Program (overseas voting), the Campus Vote Project (students) and Restore Your Vote (people with past convictions) – to provide content for specific groups. The AP will continue to provide the latest election results in the Elections Center.

TikTok posted a Safety post titled: “Our commitment to election integrity”. It was written by Eric Han, Head of US Safety. From the post:

At TikTok, we take our responsibility to protect the integrity of our platform – particularly around elections – with the utmost seriousness. We’re proud to be a place that brings people together over creative and entertaining content, and we work hard to keep harmful misinformation and other violations of our policies off our platform. As the US midterm elections continue, we’re sharing more on the work we’re doing to protect our community during this time.

Here are some things TikTok says it will do:

Promoting digital literacy skills and education. TikTok says its in-app center will feature videos that encourage our community to think critically about content they see online, as well as information about voting in the election.

Users will be directed away from TikTok for any action that requires a user to share information, such as registering to vote. Users will be directed way from TikTok onto the website for the state or relevant non-profit in order to carry out that process. TikTok will not have access to any of that off-platform data or activity.

TikTok will also add labels to content identified as being related to the 2022 midterm elections as well as content belonging to governments, politicians, and political parties in the US. These labels will allow viewers to click through to TikTok’s center and get information about the elections in their state.

TikTok will provide access on popular elections hashtags, like #elections2022 and #midtermelections, so that anyone searching for that content will be able to easily access the center. Users can also use TikTok’s tools to automatically filter our videos with words or hashtags they don’t want to see in their For You or Following feeds.

It appears that TikTok is actually going to put some effort into preventing its site from becoming a quagmire of political misinformation. TikTok appears to have done its homework and connected with reliable sources of political information. My hope is that these efforts will work. Unfortunately, it is not unheard of for users of a social media site to get angry whenever something is put in place that prevents them from easily spreading election misinformation.


Social Media Companies Killed A California Bill To Protect Kids



California lawmakers killed a bill Thursday that would have allowed government lawyers to sue social-media companies for features that allegedly harm children by causing them to become addicted, The Wall Street Journal reported.

According to The Wall Street Journal, the measure would have given the attorney general, local district attorneys and city attorneys in the biggest California cities authority to try to hold social-media companies liable in court for features that knew or should have known could addict minors. Among those targeted could have been Facebook and Instagram parent Meta Platforms, Inc., Snapchat parent Snap Inc., and TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance Ltd.

In June of 2022, Meta (parent company of Facebook and Instagram) was facing eight lawsuits filed in courthouses across the US that allege that excessive exposure to platforms including Facebook and Instagram has led to attempted or actual suicides, eating disorders and sleeplessness, among other issues. More specifically, the lawsuits claim that the company built algorithms into its platforms that lure young people into destructive behavior.

The Wall Street Journal also reported that the bill died in the appropriations committee of the California state senate through a process known as the suspense file, in which lawmakers can halt the progress of dozens or even hundreds of potentially controversial bills without a public vote, based on their possible fiscal impact.

The death of the bill comes after social media companies worked aggressively to stop the bill, arguing that it would lead to hundreds of millions of dollars in liability and potentially prompt them to abandon the youth market nationwide. Meta, Twitter Inc., and Snap all had individually lobbied against the measure according to state lobbying disclosures.

This doesn’t mean that a similar bill cannot be passed by the federal government. Politico reported earlier this month that the Commerce Committee advanced the floor considerations for two bills: It approved the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act on a voice vote and the Kids Online Safety Act by a unanimous 28-0.

According to Politico, The Kids Online Safety Act was co-sponsored by Richard Blumenthal (Democrat – Connecticut) and Marsha Blackburn (Republican – Tennessee). That bill, if passed, would require social media platforms to allow kids and their parents to opt out of content algorithms that have fed them harmful content and disable addictive product features.

The Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act was sponsored by Bill Cassidy (Republican – Louisiana) and Ed Markey (Democrat – Massachusetts). That bill, if passed, would extend existing privacy protections for preteens to children up to age 16 and bans ads from targeting them. It would also give kids and their parents the right to delete information that online platforms have about them.

Personally, I think that parents of children and teenagers who have allowed their kids to use social media should have complete control over preventing the social media companies from gathering data on their children. Huge social media companies need to find other ways of sustaining revenue that doesn’t involved mining underage people in the hopes of gaining money from ads.


TikTok Announces Top Performing Videos Can Become Ads



TikTok announced that it’s launching a new ad product called “Branded Mission” that will allow creators to connect with brands and possibly receive rewards for videos, TechCrunch reported. According to TechCrunch, with this new ad product, advertisers can crowdsource content from creators and turn top-performing videos into ads.

TikTok posted in its newsroom more information about “Branded Mission”. From the post:

…To make it easier for brands to tap into the creative power of TikTok communities and co-create authentic branded content that resonates with users, we’re launching Branded Mission. Branded Mission is an industry-first ad solution that enables advertisers to crowdsource authentic content from creators on TikTok, turn top-performing videos into ads, and improve brand affinity with media impressions.

According to TikTok, this new form of two-way engagement between brands and creators enables the TikTok community to have a creative hand in the ads that are part of a brand campaign and helps brands discover emerging creators across TikTok.

By using Branded Mission, advertisers can:

Engage the community to participate in branded campaigns: Brands can develop a brief and release it to the creator community to participate in the Branded Mission.

Let creators tell the most relatable brand story in an authentic way: TikTok creators can decide what Branded Missions they are inspired by and choose to participate in the Mission. Brands will select their favorite original creative videos and amplify them through promoted ad traffic.

Discover a diverse ecosystem of creators who are the main drivers of culture on TikTok: Brands now have more opportunities to discover and engage with a broad ecosystem of creative and talented creators. Creators who are at least 18 years old with more than 1,000 followers will be eligible to participate in a Branded Mission.

According to TikTok, eligible creators whose videos are selected by the brand as ads will benefit from a cash payment and boosted traffic. On each Branded Mission page, creators will see the potential earning opportunity before choosing to participate.

It is worth noting that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) makes it clear that creators have the responsibility to disclose that their content is an advertisement – not the brands responsibility.

“If you endorse a product through social media, your endorsement message should make it obvious when you have a relationship (“material connection”) with the brand. A “material connection” to the brand includes a personal, family, or employment relationship or a financial relationship – such as the brand paying you or giving you free or discounted products or services.”

I think it is a good idea for TikTok to enable a connection between brands and creators. I like that the brands have to be upfront about how much they are willing to pay a creator for allowing the brand to use their creative content. TikTok creators who are looking for a way to increase their income might be ready to create ads for brands.

On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the Branded Mission ads might fail. If the creators do the right thing, and disclose that this is an ad, it could make people decided not to watch it. Some people are going to reject that content specifically because it is yet another ad. In general, people tend to avoid ads as much as possible.


TikTok Reveals its State-Controlled Media Policy



TikTok posted information about its state-controlled media policy in a Newsroom post titled: “Bringing more context to content on TikTok”. Some social media companies already have put in place similar policies. Those who don’t have one will probably create one now.

Last year we began working to develop a consistent and comprehensive state media policy, as we recognize that an additional layer of context can be helpful to viewers, especially in times of war and in conflict zones. In response to the war in Ukraine, we’re expediting the rollout of our state media policy to bring viewers context to evaluate the content they consume on our platform…

TikTok will begin by applying labels to content from some state-controlled media accounts over the coming days.

Here are some key points from TikTok’s policies:

We recognize the heightened risk and impact of misleading information during a time of crisis. We continue to increase our safety and security measures and are working aggressively to help ensure people can express themselves and share their experiences, while we also seek to mitigate the potential for harm.

TikTok uses a combination of technology and people to protect their platform. Their teams speak more than 60 languages and dialects including Russian and Ukrainian.

TikTok reminds users that their Community Guidelines prohibit content that contains harmful misinformation, hateful behavior, or promotion of violence. The company will remove violative content, will ban accounts, and will suspend access to product features like livestream to those who break the rules.

TikTok also has evolved its methods in real-time to identify and combat harmful content, such as implementing additional measures to help detect and take action on livestreams that may broadcast unoriginal or misleading content.

TikTok will “remain focused on preventing, detecting, and deterring influence operations on our platform and our systems help us to identify, block and remove inauthentic accounts, engagement, or other associated activities on TikTok”.

The New York Times reported that some TikTok users were viewing videos of Ukrainian tanks taken from video games, as well as a soundtrack that was first uploaded to the app more than a year ago. Some who viewed that content believed they were seeing legitimate, authentic, videos posted by people in the Ukraine.


TikTok is Testing TikTok Live Studio



When people think about streaming sites, the first one that likely comes to mind is Twitch. YouTube has YouTube Gaming. Facebook has Facebook Live, and you can Go Live on Twitter. It does not surprise me that TikTok is testing TikTok Live Studio.

TechCrunch reported that TikTok has been testing a Windows program called TikTok Live Studio. To me, that sounds like Mac users won’t be able to access this feature.

Once downloaded to your desktop, the program allows users to log in with their TikTok account and stream directly to TikTok Live. Within the program, you can communicate with viewers through the chat feature, and you can stream content from your computer, your phone, or a gaming console. TikTok told TechCrunch that this program is currently available only in a handful of Western markets for a few thousand users.

Zach Bussey, who covers streamer stories, tweeted: “It’s super basic in its current state. Has both Landscape and Portrait Scenes. Sources include Game Capture, Mobile Capture, Video Capture, Program Capture, and some text/images. No browser sources, or alerts. Emojis are limited to the stock ones.”

In general, every site that offers streaming is doing in in the hopes that streamers will pick them (and bring their community). The main goal is to make something that will encourage people to spend more time streaming or watching other people stream. In my opinion, TikTok Live Studio is the platform’s way of trying to discover if people want to live stream on TikTok.

TechCrunch reported that TikTok’s promotional images appear to suggest that they want people to stream video games. However, according to TechCrunch, TikTok Live Studio lacks many of the features that streamers have can use on Twitch. That might deter streamers who are making some money on other streaming platforms to prioritize TikTok Live Streaming.

It is also worth knowing that TikTok told TechCrunch that TikTok Live Studio “isn’t guaranteed to roll out.” Now is not the time to ditch your current streaming platform in the hopes of making it big on TikTok Live Studio.


TikTok Technology will Automate Removal of Videos



TikTok posted information titled: “Advancing our approach to user safety”. The post informs users that TikTok will begin introducing technology to automatically remove content that violates their Community Standards. As of today, TikTok will bring these systems to the US and Canada as the company works to advance the safety of their community.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll begin using technology to automatically remove some types of violative content identified upon upload, and in addition to removals confirmed by our Safety Team. Automation will be reserved for categories where our technology has the highest degree of accuracy, starting with violations of our policies on minor safety, adult nudity and sexual activities, violent and graphic content, and illegal activities and regulated goods.

One of the reasons TikTok is choosing to use automated technologies on uploaded content – before it goes live – is to spare their moderators from having to view it. I think we can all understand why having to view the worst things on the internet – as requirement of a person’s job – would cause harm to those who cannot opt-out of seeing it.

TikTok also clarified how users will be notified of Community Guidelines violations. The new system counts the violations accrued by a user and is based on the severity and frequency of the violations. People will be notified of the consequence(s) of their violation(s), starting in the Account Updates section of their Inbox. A record of their accrued violations will be shown there.

First violation: TikTok sends a warning in the app, unless the violation is a zero-tolerance policy, which will result in an automatic ban.

After the first violation:

Suspend an account’s ability to upload a video, comment or edit their profile for 24 or 48 hours, depending on the severity of the violation and previous violations.

Or, restrict an account to a view-only experience for 72 hours or up to one week, meaning the account can’t post or engage with content.

Or, after several violations, a user will be notified that their account is on the verge of being banned. If the behavior persists, the account will be permanently removed.

TikTok may also block a device to prevent future accounts from being created.


Biden Revokes Trump’s Order Banning TikTok and WeChat



President Biden issued an executive order titled: “Executive Order on Protecting Americans’ Sensitive Data from Foreign Adversaries”. It revokes one of Trump’s executive orders banning TikTok and WeChat. That order was never carried out.

In September of 2020, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a prohibition on transactions relating to mobile apps WeChat and TikTok. In October of 2020, three popular TikTok creators filed a lawsuit against the Department of Commerce. U.S. District Judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted a preliminary injunction, which caused the Department of Commerce to be enjoined from forcing the prohibition on TikTok.

The Verge reported that President Biden’s executive order revokes the Trump-era bans on TikTok and WeChat. The order calls for the Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, to investigate apps with ties to foreign adversaries that may pose a risk to American data privacy or national security.

It also calls on other federal agencies to work together to craft recommendations to protect against the collection, sale, and transfer of sensitive US consumer data to foreign adversaries. According to The Verge, the Commerce Department is expected to also make recommendations for future executive orders or legislation to address these concerns.

The Trump order had not been carried out “in the soundest fashion”, according to CNN, who posted about Biden administration officials call with reporters. The officials stated that the new directive would establish “clear intelligible criteria” to evaluate national security risks posed by software applications connected to foreign governments, particularly China.

Overall, it seems to me that the executive order is intended to prevent foreign adversaries from collecting the data of Americans. That sounds like a good thing. The order also means that TikTok and WeChat are likely to be investigated in order to determine if they should be banned.