Roughly 20% of Search Results on TikTok Contain Misinformation, According to This Report
As the primary search engine for Gen Zers, TikTok isn't exactly the most accurate platform when it comes to news and information. This has been validated by US-based site NewsGuard. The site, which is ran by journalists, says that a whopping 20 percent of search results on TikTok contain misinformation.
NewsGuard ran TikTok accounts to come up with the conclusion. It did targeted searches, which include topics like the U.S. 2022 Election, mRNA vaccine, and the January 6 reinsurrection, for the study. Among the 540 results, the top 20 of which, across 105 videos, had false or misleading information. This translates to about 19.4 percent in terms of the misinformation put out there by users.
Similarly, "neutral terms" were suggested to searchers, which would show things like "climate change debunked" or "covid vaccine exposed" or related arguments against hot-button issues. In contrast, Goggle's search results were said to be more straightforward, with keywords like "which covid vaccine is best" popping up instead of the former. The group had also claimed that TikTok's search results were more polarizing.
“For example, 12 out of the top 20 search results for ‘2022 midterm’ contained hyper-partisan, left-leaning rhetoric," it said. "The caption of one video presented as a search result referred to 2022 Georgia Republican U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker as as a ‘vegetable,’ while a person in another video proclaimed all Republicans to be “motherf**kers.”
NewsGuard added: “The toxicity of TikTok has become a significant threat because new research from Google suggests TikTok is increasingly being used by young people as a search engine, as they turn to the video-sharing platform, instead of Google, to find information."
In the Philippines' case, Washington Post reporter Regina Cabato reported that TikTok has been manipulated by certain local parties to "whitewash" history and peddle fake news. It had been a primary tool for disinformation during the 2022 Philippine elections.
TikTok had not responded to NewsGuard's inquiries on the matter.