LONDON: Video-sharing app TikTok is struggling to stem the flow of misleading information, including about the war in Ukraine, according to an independent investigation.
The study, led by NewsGuard, found that new TikTok users could be recommended fake content about Ukraine within 40 minutes of joining the network.
NewsGuard, which assesses the credibility of news and information websites and tracks online misinformation, showed that fake videos, old clips and fake live streams about the conflict are spreading quickly on TikTok.
While other social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, have labeled viral videos false or misleading about the war, TikTok has failed to do so, despite some of the clips amassing millions of views, according to investigation.
Much of the material turned out to be outdated videos and fake live clips. One of them, supposedly about the ongoing conflict and which has garnered more than 30 million views, actually included clips from a YouTube video of Ukrainian military training exercises in 2017.
The investigation revealed that most of the fake live streams were linked to popular hashtags such as #Ukraine or #UkraineWar.
He also said computer-generated images were frequently used to replace genuine images.
In a video with the caption “Ukraine live”, which has been viewed 24 million times, a man appears to drop an explosive device on a tank. But the clip was actually taken from a video of an Airsoft match – a team-based fighting game similar to paintball – and uploaded to YouTube in January.
The spread of false information on TikTok is not new. Just a few weeks ago, images and videos showing Israeli attacks on Palestinians were mislabeled and captioned as Russian attacks on Ukrainians by some social media users.
A blurry video purporting to show a Ukrainian woman confronting a Russian soldier has generated 12.7 million views on TikTok and more than a million on Twitter. But the footage actually shows Palestinian activist Ahed Tamimi, then 11, confronting an Israeli soldier after her older brother was arrested in 2012.