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Infolettre

TikTok: how does the algorithm lead to misinformation and danger?

Introduction

Misinformation is a widespread phenomenon in our society. Its purpose is to broadcast dubious information in order to influence public opinion and hide the truth. Nowadays, it is fueled by social media, which makes it more dangerous and powerful. TikTok is no exception to the rule. This article will highlight the points we should pay the most attention to, with focus on TikTok algorithm and misinformation.

Why is TikTok so popular? How does its algorithm work?

TikTok is an app created in 2014 under the initial name Musical.ly. Its initial concept was to create short dance and lip sync videos. This popular platform among teens and young adults has a huge power and is very thriving. The reason behind its popularity is of course its very well designed algorithm. The application analyzes our preferences and makes sure that we stay on the platform as long as possible.

TikTok is a very popular platform, especially because of its intelligent algorithm.
In 2021 and 2022, TikTok has been the most downloaded app in the world.

TikTok = source of misinformation and danger?

However, we must be careful because the feed can quickly become a source of misinformation. The Covid-19 vaccines, the health crisis itself and politics (especially with the US elections) are recent examples. TikTok manages to manipulate the algorithm so that the videos we watch agree with our way of thinking. In fact, it shows us clips that all go in the same direction. Although social networks try to show us content that we like, TikTok has added a new dimension: speed.

By applying all of these principles and offering individuals content that matches their preferences, TikTok creates an informational bubble. By showing biased content, the algorithm has the effect of locking the individuals into their mindset. It also threatens critical thinking, as well as democracy. Indeed, it tracks people, stores their information, and uses it without their informed consent. Finally, brands are facing a new dilemma. In fact, what is at stake for them has completely changed in recent years. Before, their main objective was to make people buy new products, whereas now, they try to make them buy more of the things they like. They promote less and less novelty and this leads to a restriction of marketing and of open-mindedness.

TikTok is source of entertainment but also of disinformation and danger.
TikTok is also known for being a great source of disinformation because of its intelligent algorithm.

Conclusion

To conclude, we must remain careful because TikTok algorithm and misinformation make it a biased application. It makes sure to show us content that we like in order to keep us for as long as possible, even if it must go against its original goals of entertainment.

Citations :

– Disinformation. (2022). In  The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionaryhttps://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disinformation

– Le Devoir. (2021b, January 30). La désinformation et les médias sociaux, le couple qui inquiète. https://www.ledevoir.com/opinion/idees/594300/la-desinformation-et-les-medias-sociaux-le-couple-qui-inquiete

New Platform, Old Problems: How TikTok Recreates the Regulatory Challenges That Came Before It. (2020, May 18). CIGI. https://www.cigionline.org/articles/new-platform-old-problems-how-tiktok-recreates-regulatory-challenges-came-it/#:~:text=TikTok%20started%20as%20an%20app,and%20became%20TikTok%20in%202018

Décrypteurs – La Désinformation sur Tik Tok : un potentiel de propagation à ne pas négliger. (2021b, October 2). https://ici.tou.tv/decrypteurs/S03E01?fbclid=IwAR2s1HcT3iOEQrWXgkK_2gyEkfZ16qIgubTq5ympM7563NrAsx-t5r-IoCI

– Confrere, E. (2021, July 26). Comment l’algorithme TikTok pousse à l’extrême la bulle de filtres. LEFIGARO. https://www.lefigaro.fr/secteur/high-tech/comment-l-algorithme-tiktok-pousse-a-l-extreme-la-bulle-de-filtres-20210726

Why TikTok Is a Threat to Democracy. (n.d.-b). Journal of Democracy. https://journalofdemocracy.org/why-tiktok-is-a-threat-to-democracy/

TikTok. (2021, May 7). Unsplash. https://unsplash.com/photos/_kz4Mhc0m_Q

TikTok Gets Political, Raising Concerns About Misinformation. (n.d.). WSJ.com. https://www.wsj.com/video/tiktok-gets-political-raising-concerns-about-misinformation/1E65678E-1008-498F-AFB7-4BF356C77475.html

18 Responses

  1. Very interesting Carla! Good explanation of the dangers of the information bubble. Very actual subject 🙂

    1. Thank you very much Celia. Yes, my objective was to address a topic so present in our society! Anyway, thank you for your feedback!

    1. Thanks Emilie! Yes TikTok has positive sides but we cannot forget the bad ones, that’s why I thought it was important to talk about them. Have a good day!

  2. Thank you for your insight. Do you believe the dangers are the same with other social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook?

    1. Thank you for your comment, Romina. Indeed, I think that these dangers and this phenomenon of misinformation are also present on other social media. However, I think it is amplified on TikTok because of the way the algorithm works. Have a good day!

  3. This paper is really interesting, even more for me because I don’t have TikTok. All these information makes me think that I don’t need this application. Thank you for this essay.

    1. Thank you for your comment Zoé! I totally understand your point of view but I think that TikTok still has good sides but we need to keep in mind the bad ones and the dangers it can create.

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