Misinformation has become a key focus for every digital platform, and this week, TikTok has announced a new initiative to help improve digital literacy, and stop the spread of misleading reports within its app.
Called #FactCheckYourFeed, the new campaign aims to help equip TikTok users with the skills they need to “critically engage with content, navigate our platform safely and guard themselves against potential harms.”
As you can see in this example, the new initiative will use TikTok clips from a range of creators and public figures to outline key lessons in how to detect and avoid misleading info online, all presented in TikTok’s unique style.
As explained by TikTok:
“We take the responsibility to help educate our users seriously, which means making sure that everyone has access to good, accurate information whenever they need it. To achieve this, it’s important that our users are able to correctly identify what they are watching and to know if they are being given potentially inaccurate or harmful information.”
Digital literacy is now a critical consideration for social media platforms specifically, with around 71% of people now getting at least some of their news input from social media apps. That makes all social platforms key news sources, and with the real-time, public nature of social feeds, that also lends the medium to misinformation campaigns, and targeted pushes aimed to influence public action based on variable agendas.
And while TikTok is not considered a key source of such efforts, it is being targeted by misinformation and disinformation groups.
As per the platform’s most recent transparency report, TikTok removed over 340,000 videos in the US in the second half of last year for breaking its rules around election misinformation, while it’s also being used to spread propaganda and politically-focused content in various regions.
In some ways, TikTok may actually be even more important for such efforts, given its popularity among younger audiences. If TikTok can play a role in providing such education to younger user groups, that can help to increase awareness moving forward, which will better position people to view such content with a more critical eye in future.
I mean, really, we should be teaching digital literacy in schools as a matter of course – as is now done in Finland – given the significance of its role in influencing political movements and voter activity around the polls.
But with that still seemingly a long way off, programs like this will have to do, and it’s good to see TikTok taking the initiative and looking to provide more guidance to users on the key things to watch for, while also communicating that to them in the ways they’re more comfortable with, and responsive to.
“Our ambition is for #FactCheckYourFeed to encourage our community to dig a little deeper and think a little wider. Developing these important skills will not only help people while online, but in their everyday lives.”
An important, and valuable, aim, which could have a range of flow-on benefits.