In an effort to combat misinformation and disinformation online, TikTok has removed hundreds of Australian videos from its platform. In an official report, TikTok revealed it had removed 651 videos mentioning COVID-19 or coronavirus between October 2020 and March 2021 for violating the company’s misinformation policy. And a further 222 videos were removed for posting medical misinformation.
Some of the false claims, as per The Guardian, included that the Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, faked the Pfizer vaccination despite clear vision of him receiving the shot; a false claim the health minister Greg Hunt’s cellulitis diagnosis was due to receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine; and a false claim the AstraZeneca vaccine had caused 80% of the members of the Australian navy severe side effects.
The report highlights that TikTok works with Agence France-Presse (AFP) to fact-check claims made about COVID-19, and passes on those fact-checked claims to the company’s moderators. It said about 20,000 Australian videos in that time also had a COVID-19 information label added to them, directing users to health sources. In cases where a video’s claims have been reviewed but not yet substantiated, users will get a pop-up warning suggesting not to share the video.
Moreover, about 37,000 Twitter accounts in Australia had actions taken for violating the rules, including 7,200 suspensions. A total of 47,000 tweets, banners or avatars from Australian accounts were removed. Just over 50 had actions taken for violating COVID-19 misinformation policy, and less than 10 were suspended. And over 40 Australian accounts had actions taken for violating election integrity policy, and 70 tweets, banners or avatars were removed under this policy.
Facebook also removed more than 110,000 pieces of COVID-related misinformation generated by Australian accounts in the first year of the pandemic. In February this year, Twitter, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Redbubble, Apple and Adobe and TikTok had signed on to a new voluntary industry code aimed at combating misinformation crackdown.