TikTok exposes new users to Russia/Ukraine war disinformation

Occurred: March 2022

People opening new accounts on TikTok are quickly shown misinformation and disinformation about the Russia/Ukraine war.

An investigation by anti-misinformation company NewsGuard discovered, by setting up a pair of tests to see how TikTok handled information about the war, that a new account that simply scrolled the app’s For You feature and watched videos about the conflict would be shown false or misleading content within 40 minutes. 

According to the Newsguard researchers, 'none of the videos ... contained any information about the trustworthiness of the source, warnings, fact-checks, or additional information that could empower users with reliable information.'

System 🤖

Operator: ByteDance/TikTok
Developer: ByteDance/TikTok
Country: USA; Global
Sector: Media/entertainment/sports/arts; Govt - defence; Politics
Purpose: Recommend content
Technology: Recommendation algorithm
Issue: Mis/disinformation
Transparency: Governance; Black box

Page info
Type: Incident
Published: March 2022
Last updated: November 2023