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US Election 2020: TikTok takes steps to curb misinformation

TikTok says it has updated its policies to curb misinformation on its video-sharing app ahead of the US election in November. 

The app, which has come under fire by the Trump administration over national security concerns due to its Chinese ownership, said it was working with experts from the Department of Homeland Security to ‘protect against foreign influence’. 

The social media app announced the policy changes in a blog post on Wednesday.  

TikTok said it would expand partnerships with PolitiFact and Lead Stories to fact-check potential misinformation about the election. 

It will also allow users to report vote-related misinformation on the app.

‘Millions of Americans come to TikTok every day to express themselves freely and creatively. People on our app value authentic content, and we do too – which is why our teams work diligently to uphold our Community Guidelines and keep misleading, harmful, or deceptive content and accounts off TikTok,’ the company said.

‘To strengthen these efforts, we’re announcing three new measures to combat misinformation, disinformation and other content that may be designed to disrupt the 2020 election.’ 

The company, which does not allow political advertising and admitted it was not the ‘go-to app to follow news or politics’, has increasingly emerged as a platform for political discourse and activism. 

Users recently said they helped inflate attendance expectations at Donald Trump’s June rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

The hugely popular app, which allows users to create short videos with special effects and music clips, has also been used to share false claims such as COVID-19 misinformation. 

TikTok said it was adding a specific policy to prohibit synthetic or manipulated content that misleads users in a way that could cause harm. 

In recent days, a viral doctored video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had spread across social media platforms, including TikTok.

The changes are the latest moves by TikTok to combat misinformation, an issue that major social media companies including Facebook and Twitter have long struggled to police on their own platforms.

TikTok owner ByteDance is the first Chinese company to achieve global success with a consumer app.

However, amid rising US-China tensions, the Trump and his administration have threatened to ban TikTok and other Chinese-owned apps, citing national security risks.

TikTok currently faces a deadline of September 15 to either sell its US operations to Microsoft Corp or face an outright ban.

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