In Kenya, TikTok has been proven to foster misinformation and political tensions ahead of elections.
According to a recent Mozilla Foundation study, TikTok is fuelling misinformation and political conflict in Kenya ahead of the August general elections.
Mozilla reached this determination after evaluating 130 popular videos that included hate speech, provocation, and political misinformation.
This was in violation of TikTok’s policy against hate speech and the dissemination of discriminatory, inciteful, and synthetic material.
While the 33 accounts’ short videos violated TikTok’s norms and regulations, Mozilla Tech and Society Fellow Odanga Madung said that the films were not removed from the short video platform, which is one of the most popular social networks in the East African nation.
Madung interviewed numerous TikTok content moderators and determined that their lack of expertise in the country’s political environment was one of the major reasons why some of the provocative messages were not removed, resulting in the propagation of misinformation on the social app.
Earlier this year, Madung examined information published using “popular political hashtags, names of political candidates, major regions, political parties, and ethnic groupings.” The movies used coded language and pejorative phrases (such as madoadoa), which are considered hate speech in Kenya and are prohibited by the Kenyan National Cohesion and Integration Commission, which is tasked with reducing inter-ethnic violence.
“Kenya’s democracy is marred by post-election violence.” Political misinformation on TikTok is now agitating this very combustible political terrain, in violation of the platform’s own standards. Meanwhile, TikTok has shown its inability to handle this issue,” Madung stated.
The analysis also discovered that several of the videos had more views than the following of the examined accounts, implying the presence of algorithmic amplification.
According to the study, “several of the videos are receiving outsized viewing in proportion to their followership, which shows that the material may be obtaining amplification through TikTok’s For You Page algorithm.”
Gadear Ayed, a TikTok whistleblower, claimed it was also typical for staff moderating the site to be asked to assess stuff that was in context and languages that they didn’t understand.
“Sometimes, the individuals monitoring the site don’t know who the entities in the films are, and as a result, the videos might proliferate owing to a lack of context understanding.” “It’s normal for moderators to be requested to monitor films in languages and circumstances that they don’t understand,” Ayed said.
TikTok joins Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook as social media platforms that have been accused of promoting misinformation and propaganda and negatively affecting election results in the past.
According to the report, TikTok targets a younger population that is readily affected and swayed by the material they consume on the social platform.
“TikTok’s population is substantially younger, which concerns me because they lack the levels of political maturity or a strong value framework that may enable them to filter through such material,” Amnesty International executive director Irungu Houghton was cited as saying in the Mozilla study.
“TikTok must acknowledge that the demographic they are working with is a formative age, and hence the results of such initiatives are unlikely to be seen immediately – but they may have long-term consequences.”
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