TikTok found to be fueling disinformation and political tensions in Kenya ahead of elections

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TikTok is fueling disinformation and political tension in Kenya ahead of the August general election. new study according to the Mozilla Foundation.

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Mozilla came to this conclusion after viewing 130 popular videos with content filled with hate speech, incitement and political disinformation. This was contrary to TikTok’s policy on hate speech and the dissemination of discriminatory, inflammatory and synthetic content.

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Although the short videos shared by 33 accounts violated TikTok rules and policies, Mozilla Tech and Society researcher Odanga Madung said the videos were not removed from the short video platform, which is one of the most popular social networks in East Africa. country.

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Madung interviewed several TikTok content moderators and concluded that their ignorance of the political context in the country may be one of the main reasons why some inflammatory posts were not removed, leading to the spread of misinformation on the social app.

Earlier this year, Madung viewed content shared through “popular political hashtags, names of political candidates, key locations, political parties and ethnic communities.” The videos contained coded language and derogatory terms (e.g., Madoadoa), which are labeled as hate speech in the country and banned by the Kenya National Cohesion and Integration Commission, the body charged with reducing ethnic conflict.

“Kenya’s democracy carries a tainted past of post-election violence. Now, political disinformation on TikTok — in violation of the platform’s own policies — has stirred up this highly volatile political landscape. Meanwhile, TikTok has shown that it is unable to solve this problem,” Madung said.

The study also showed that some of the videos received more views than the number of accounts viewed, suggesting the use of algorithmic amplification.

“Many of the videos get too large an audience compared to their number of subscribers, and according to the researchers, this suggests that the content may be gaining power through the TikTok For You Page algorithm,” the study says.

Content moderators interviewed include TikTok whistleblower Ghader Ayed, who said people moderating the platform are also often asked to view content in context and in languages ​​they don’t understand.

“Sometimes the people moderating the platform don’t know who the entities in the videos are, and hence the videos can be left to circulate due to lack of knowledge of the context. Usually moderators are asked to moderate videos in a language and context other than what they understand,” Ayed said.

TikTok joins Twitter, WhatsApp and Facebook, other social sites that have been accused in the past of fueling disinformation and propaganda and negatively influencing elections.

TikTok is attracting a younger audience that the study says is easily influenced and can be influenced by the content they consume on the social app.

“The demographics of TikTok are much younger and that worries me because they don’t have a level of political maturity or a clear value base that would allow them to sift through such information,” Houghton, chief executive of Amnesty International, was quoted as saying. according to the Mozilla report.

“TikTok needs to recognize that the demographic they’re dealing with is the emerging generation, and so the impact of campaigns like this isn’t something we’re likely to see right away, but we may see its impact in the coming decades.”

Credit: techcrunch.com /

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