Oh the Irony! – TikTok launches U.S. elections guide to combat misinformation

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By Elizabeth Culliford

TikTok is launching an elections guide in the video-sharing app to give users information about the 2020 U.S. elections to help protect against misinformation, the company said in a Tuesday blog post.

TikTok said the guide will give users access to information about federal, state and local candidates from BallotReady, and about how to vote in each state, from the National Association of Secretaries of State.

It will also include educational videos about media literacy and the elections process from digital literacy project MediaWise.

TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, has been under scrutiny from President Donald Trump’s administration over concerns about its handling of users’ data.

“Our elections guide is built with user privacy in mind, so a user must visit the website for a state or a non-profit for anything that involves sharing their information, including registering to vote,” said Michael Beckerman, TikTok’s head of U.S. public policy in the blog post. “Interactions with this guide in our app have no bearing on future TikTok experiences, such as recommendations or ads.”

TikTok was on Sunday granted a last-minute reprieve by a U.S. judge, who temporarily blocked a Trump administration order set to bar Apple Inc <AAPL.O> and Alphabet Inc’s Google <GOOGL.O> from offering TikTok for download.

Negotiations are under way to hammer out terms of a preliminary deal for Walmart Inc <WMT.N> and Oracle Corp <ORCL.N> to take stakes in a new company to oversee TikTok’s U.S. operations.

TikTok, which says it has about 100 million monthly active U.S. users and has increasingly become a platform for political content, also faces the challenge of protecting against misinformation and platform abuses ahead of its first U.S. presidential election.

This month, Reuters found videos containing false claims about mail-in voting and presidential candidates, several of which TikTok removed after they were flagged by Reuters.

The elections guide will be accessible from TikTok’s Discover page, on election-related search results and videos and from verified political accounts.

(Reporting by Elizabeth Culliford; Editing by Nick Zieminski)

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SourceReuters

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