TikTok’s black box hid his involvement in the Russian war

Ten days in Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, TikTok announced that it had released new posts from Russian news because of the country’s new “fake news” law. But the industry has been quieter about a second policy change – one that has prevented TikTok users in Russia from seeing information posted by stories abroad.

Evidence by social research group Tracking Exposed shows that TikTok has locked its Russian users in a loudspeaker that is supposed to appease President Vladimir Putin’s government. Within that digital enclave, a network of Russian historians continued to disseminate pro-invasion information. “There’s a clear misrepresentation of ecological knowledge in TikTok,” said Salvatore Romano, head of research at Tracking Exposed.

TikTok spokesman Jamie Favazza declined to comment on Tracking Exposed’s findings and reiterated in an earlier statement that the company had banned new transfers from Russia. But the platform, whose Chinese startup ByteDance, has not been as popular in Russia than the US competitions and has been created by the Russian government. TikTok has implemented EU sanctions requiring thresholds to block access to Russian state -sponsored media from Europe. Meta, Google, and Twitter have also modified their algorithms to generate information or links to those portals. As punishment, Facebook and Twitter were banned by Russian internet censors. On March 21, a Moscow court banned Facebook and Instagram from Russia, accusing the parent group Meta of “extremist activities.”

TikTok’s activities in Russia and its key role in disseminating videos and news from the war in Ukraine add to the urgency to open up questions about the course of truth and guilt on the threshold, said Romano and other researchers. TikTok’s geopolitical timeline also reveals the challenges faced by researchers trying to answer those questions. The app, released in 2017, had more than 1 billion users per month in September 2021, but is not well -studied, and more difficult to learn, than its predecessor. old competitors.

Much of the work on the dynamics and dynamics of social media is on Facebook and Twitter. The tools and technologies developed for those sites highlighted the spread of misinformation about Covid-19 and the removal of fraudulent online ads related to Covid-19. countries, including Russia, China, and Mexico. Meta and Twitter provide APIs to help researchers see what’s moving on their platform.

TikTok does not provide a research API, making it difficult to answer questions about its role in disseminating accurate and inaccurate information around the Ukraine war or other topics. And while researchers may want to see Meta and Twitter provide more general information, these sites offer something, said Shelby Grossman, a researcher who studies pro-Russian posts about in Ukraine and Stanford’s Internet Observatory. “It’s hard to take a close look at what’s going on at TikTok,” he said. The researchers also sought to look at information about Ukraine in the Telegram email, which had no API researchers and had less training than US websites.

TikTok told Favazza that while it does not offer an API research at this time, “we strongly support independent research,” citing a program that brings lawyers and experts to the field. system damage in its moderation system and systems. TikTok had previously said the war in Ukraine would increase humiliation and speed up a pilot program that would make headlines in the national media but did not directly point out how his actions would change. On March 24, two TikTok editors filed a lawsuit against the company alleging mental damage from “displaying bitter and grossly disturbing images.”

One of the biggest challenges for outside researchers looking at what is moving at TikTok comes from the power and influence of its mentoring algorithm, which is playing an outsize role compared to online businesses. ancient. The app and its fast growth are built on the For You page, featuring an endless feed of videos recorded by TikTok’s algorithm and heavily extracted from stories that the user has not followed. As a result, different people watch different videos, with feeds about past viewing and other symptoms.

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