In Kenya, TikTok has been found to foster disinformation and political tensions ahead of elections. According to new study from the Mozilla Foundation, TikTok is fostering disinformation and political conflict in Kenya ahead of the August general elections.
After evaluating 130 popular films including hate speech, provocation, and political disinformation, Mozilla came to this conclusion.
This was in violation of TikTok’s policy against hate speech and the dissemination of discriminatory, inciteful, or synthetic content.
Despite the fact that the short videos, which were shared by 33 accounts, violated TikTok’s norms and policies, Mozilla Tech and Society Fellow Odanga Madung claimed the videos were not removed off the short video platform, which is one of the most popular social sites in East Africa.
Madung spoke with several TikTok content moderators and came to the conclusion that their lack of familiarity with the country’s political context was one of the main reasons why some of the inflammatory posts were not taken down, resulting in the spread of misinformation on the social media platform.
Earlier this year, Madung looked at content published using “popular political hashtags, names of political candidates, key regions, political parties, and ethnic groupings.” The movies contained 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 charged with reducing inter-ethnic conflict.
“Kenya’s democracy is marred by a history of post-election violence. Now, political disinformation on TikTok is agitating this very combustible political terrain, in violation of the platform’s own standards. Meanwhile, TikTok has demonstrated that it is unable to address this issue,” Madung stated.
The investigation also discovered that several of the videos received more views than the reviewed accounts’ followers, implying that algorithmic amplification was at work.
According to the study, “several of the videos are enjoying outsized viewership in proportion to their followership,” implying that “the content may be gaining amplification from TikTok’s For You Page algorithm.”
TikTok whistleblower Gadear Ayed was among the content moderators examined, and he stated it was usual for staff moderating the platform to be asked to check stuff that was in context and in languages they didn’t understand.
“Sometimes the platform’s moderators have no idea who the entities in the films are, and as a result, the recordings can be let to propagate owing to a lack of context.” “It’s not uncommon for moderators to be requested to monitor videos in languages and circumstances that they don’t understand,” Ayed explained.
TikTok joins Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook as social media platforms that have been accused of generating disinformation and propaganda and influencing election outcomes in the past.
According to the report, TikTok targets a younger demographic that is readily affected and swayed by the content they consume on the social platform.
The executive director of Amnesty International, Irungu Houghton, was mentioned in the Mozilla report as saying, “TikTok’s audience is significantly younger, and it worries me because they don’t have the levels of political maturity or a clear value framework that may allow them to sift through such information.”
“TikTok needs to understand that the population they’re working with is a formative generation, and as a result, the repercussions of such efforts are unlikely to be seen right away — but they could be felt for decades.”
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