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Article

28 Mar 2022

Author:
Tom Simonite, Wired

Pro-war propaganda continues to be shared on TikTok in Russia according to researchers; co. declined to comment

"TikTok’s Black Box Obscures Its Role in Russia’s War", 27 March 2022

Ten days into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, TikTok announced it had suspended new posts from Russian accounts due to the country’s new “fake news” law. But the company was quieter about a second policy shift—one that blocked TikTok users in Russia from seeing any content posted by accounts located outside the country... Findings by social media research collective Tracking Exposed suggest that TikTok enfolded its Russian users in a vast echo chamber intended to pacify president Vladimir Putin’s government.

... TikTok spokesperson Jamie Favazza declined to comment on Tracking Exposed’s findings and repeated a previous statement that the company had blocked new uploads from Russia. But the platform, owned by Chinese startup ByteDance, has been less critical of Russia than US rivals and has been treated less harshly by Russia’s government. TikTok complied with EU sanctions forcing platforms to block access to Russian state-backed media from Europe. Meta, Google, and Twitter have also adjusted their algorithms to make content or links to those outlets less visible.

... TikTok does not provide a research API, making it hard to answer questions about its role in spreading accurate or inaccurate information around the Ukraine war or other topics.

... TikTok spokesperson Favazza says that although it does not currently provide a research API, “we strongly support independent research,” citing a program that briefs lawmakers and experts in online harms on its moderation and recommendation systems.

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