TikTok and Facebook Fail To Stop Political Disinformation, Report Says
(UnitedHeadlines.com) – The age of social media has arguably produced many excellent and productive collaborations, but it has also created a virtual world filled with disinformation and poor advice. Individuals on both sides of the aisle have stooped to damaging lows to undermine the opposition, but ultimately, doesn’t the public pay the price? A recent investigation by the Global Witness and the Cybersecurity for Democracy team at NYU found popular platforms TikTok and Facebook failed users the most.
The cyber research team drafted a series of advertisements similar to the misinformation campaign messages that became widespread before the 2020 elections. Given the extensive confusion such social media efforts caused, experts wanted to assess the risks similar problems might cause before the upcoming midterms.
All of the ads the NYU team submitted contained blatantly false information regarding essential details, like the midterm voting date, or used language to delegitimize the electoral process. The researchers scheduled all of the publication dates for far into the future, deleting the material as soon as it either passed or failed the review process, so social media users never had significant access to the misleading ads.
The team found a startling number of lies went undetected past the companies’ screening processes. The worst was TikTok, owned by China’s ByteDance, which approved 90% of the ads submitted. Meta’s Facebook approved far fewer, allowing through 35%. YouTube, owned by Google, was the only platform that consistently flagged misleading content and banned the NYU account for violating ad policies.
The results show the United States is as vulnerable as ever to the effects of targeted misinformation campaigns. TikTok’s involvement is most concerning. The video-sharing company claims to have a zero-tolerance policy against political ads, yet its filters appear grossly ineffective at doing their job. The possibilities are quite unsettling when coupled with the fact that ever-increasing numbers of Americans, especially those between the ages of 18 and 29, are obtaining their news from TikTok.
— The Hill (@thehill) October 21, 2022
To protect yourself from misinformation, always confirm a story’s source before deciding whether it’s true. Even valid stories can carry slant and spin, making them nothing more than damaging clickbait. Corroborate information using fact verification sites like FactChecker.org and Snopes.com. You can also check whether an image has been wrongfully repurposed for a story by right-clicking on it and choosing “search Google for image” on the scroll-down menu.
Social media’s original purpose was to connect friends and family in new ways and open the doors for worldwide interaction and entertainment. While a handful of bad players might use these platforms for their own targeted purposes, the rest of us can safeguard our favorite online communities by contributing productively and ignoring or reporting spin.
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