By Arjun Narayan Bettadapur Manjunath, Director, Trust and Safety, TikTok APAC

At TikTok, our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy. We're proud to be a platform where communities all over the world can connect, express themselves, and share what's happening around them through the experience of video. 

In recent years, we've seen social platforms - including TikTok - grow to become a major source of entertainment, expression and information. At the same time, we have seen rising concern around the risk of false or misleading information being propagated online, whether in the form of inaccurate medical information, conspiracy theories, or even influence campaigns waged by state or non-state actors to change public opinion on matters of importance. Such misinformation or deliberate disinformation can have real world harm, and is antithetical to building a trust-based community where authentic interactions can thrive.

We recognise the responsibility we have as a platform and as an industry to protect against the spread of false information and influence campaigns. While TikTok isn’t the go-to app for news content, our users value authentic content and so do we, which is why we have continued to invest in efforts to actively identify misinformation and to prevent inauthentic behavior such as deliberate interference in civic processes. 

To further strengthen our efforts, we are announcing the following new measures to combat misinformation, disinformation and other content that may be designed to disrupt civic processes:

  1. We have updated our policies on misleading content to provide further clarity on what is and isn't allowed on TikTok. 
  1. We are building up our teams, processes, and technology to identify and, where necessary, remove misleading and false information.
  1. We are working with global experts to prevent coordinated influence campaigns on our platform.

Enhancing our misinformation policies

We have updated our global Community Guidelines with broader coverage of topics related to misleading information in order to help maintain a supportive and welcoming environment on TikTok. The guidelines reflect our updated policies and ongoing commitment to providing a safe platform for creative self-expression and fostering a trust-based community that promotes authentic behavior. We want to ensure that people understand these guidelines, when and why we take action and what kind of content is not allowed on the platform.

  • We have added a policy which prohibits synthetic or manipulated content that misleads users by distorting the truth of events in a way that could lead to real world harm. Our intent is to explicitly protect users from things like shallow or deep fakes and, whilst this kind of content was broadly covered by our guidelines in the past, this update will make our policies easier to understand for our users. 
  • We've made our policy around influence campaigns more transparent. Our Community Guidelines already prohibit content around disinformation campaigns and this addition makes our stance against coordinated inauthentic behavior unambiguous: "Do not engage in coordinated inauthentic activities (such as the creation of accounts) to exert influence and sway public opinion while misleading individuals, our community or the larger public about the account's identity, location or purpose."

Expanding our teams and programs

Central to the issue of misinformation is the presence of unverified content circulating the internet that may appear to the public to be 'facts' or 'news'. In order to support our efforts in identifying and limiting the spread of misinformation, we have put systems in place to allow our users to easily report misinformation in-app. In turn, we have kicked off our third-party fact-checking program for Australia, with a team of global fact-checkers who review and verify reported content across 16 languages. If the information is confirmed to be false or misleading, we take proactive steps to remove the content in line with our Community Guidelines. 

Deepening our partnerships

Over the next few months, we will continue to consult with a wide range of industry experts, academics and civil society organisations to seek guidance on improving our policies. We will share with experts the details of our methodology on crafting policies to help them understand the challenges and opportunities. Through their understanding of our approach, they will be able to help us arrive at better solutions. 

At the same time, we recognise the importance of finding solutions which will best serve our users in their local contexts. In line with this, we will continue to welcome collaboration with other industry players and regulators. This includes working with the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), towards the development of a draft industry code of conduct on misinformation, which is due for release later this year. 

These are only some of the steps that we are making in our fight against the spread of false information and influence campaigns - and there will be more to come. We endeavour to develop solutions that support authenticity, and are committed to building a safe platform on which our trust-based community can express themselves freely.