TikTok bans deepfakes over concerns about election interference

Brittany A. Roston - Aug 5, 2020, 3:48pm CDT
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TikTok bans deepfakes over concerns about election interference

Controversial video-based social media platform TikTok has banned deepfakes from its platform, citing concerns about the use of the technology to interfere with elections and otherwise spread misinformation. The move comes amid concerns about TikTok and its alleged potential impact on national security, as well as the general vulnerability of social media platforms to manipulation and election interference.

Deepfakes are, for those who are somehow still unfamiliar with this budding technology, a type of video manipulation that involves superimposing one person’s face over another person’s body, making it appear that someone is saying or doing something that is, in fact, simply a machine creation. This technology is readily available to the public, making it relatively simple for anyone to create their own mis- or disinformation.

TikTok US General Manager Vanessa Pappas announced to the press on Wednesday that it has rolled out three new ‘measures’ that are intended to prevent the spread of disinformation (deliberate manipulation), misinformation (the unaware dissemination of manipulated media), and similar content on its platform. This includes all ‘shallow’ and deepfakes that “mislead users by distorting the truth of events in a way that could cause harm.”

In addition to updating its policies regarding this kind of content, TikTok says that it is also expanding its fact-checking partnerships to specifically address the potential for election interference — the teams will work to verify the content that is related to elections. In addition, the TikTok app will soon feature a reporting option that allows users to flag such misinformation.

Finally, TikTok says that it is working with the Department of Homeland Security’s experts on preventing ‘foreign influence’ that may exploit its platform. Specifically, TikTok has tapped the DHS’s Countering Foreign Influence Task Force to help prevent any election interference from foreign governments that may target its users.


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