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 = 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.
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.
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– 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
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– 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