TikTok has banned paid political influencer posts ahead of the upcoming US midterm elections

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As part of preparations for the US midterm elections in November, TikTok will work to prevent content creators from posting paid political messages on the short-form video app, the company said on Wednesday.

Critics and lawmakers have accused rival social media companies, including the TikTok and Meta platforms and Twitter, of doing too little to prevent political misinformation and divisive content from spreading on their apps.

TikTok has banned paid political ads since 2019, while campaign strategists have circumvented the ban by paying influencers to promote political issues. The company is trying to close the loophole by holding briefings with creators and talent agencies to remind them that posting paid political content is against TikTok’s policies, TikTok’s head of US safety Eric Hahn said during a briefing with reporters.

He added that internal teams, including those working on trust and safety, will monitor for signs that creators are being paid to post political content, and that the company will also rely on media reports and outside partners to find infringing posts.

“We saw this as an issue in 2020,” Han said. “Once we find out about it … we will remove it from our platform.”

TikTok aired its plan after similar updates on Meta and Twitter.

Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram, said on Tuesday it would bar political advertisers from running new ads a week before an election, a move it also took in 2020.

Last week, Twitter said it planned to revive previous policies for the midterm elections, including putting labels in front of some misleading tweets and adding reliable information to timelines that can debunk false claims before they spread online. Civil and voting rights experts said the plan was not enough to prepare for the election.

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© Thomson Reuters 2022


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