TikTok & Fake News

a growing pandemic

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July 30, 2020

(3 min read)

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It's safe to say you all remember the 2016 election and the terming of "fake news." It's also safe to say that the thought of fake news taking over media- whether you're a Democract or Republican- scared the crap out of you. 

Four years later, the spread of "fake news" has only grown - but this time, fake news is targeting Gen Z. 

What makes TikTok special is the vitality of it. Even though the market is undeniably oversaturated with 800 million users, every user can go viral. For example, this morning I- a regular teen with not many followers- went viral for posting a 8 second clip about a new Netflix movie. The way the algorithm works is that your video gets tested amongst a small audience and if it performs well (gets likes, comments, shares, is watched from start to end), it gets shown to more and more people. Because everyone on TikTok has a horrid attention span, the key to going viral is to shock your audience in the first few seconds of the video. Unfortunately, this means much of the viral  content is fake.

While fake videos of friends fighting doesn't do too much harm, the spread of fake news does. From editing Tweets to literally stating fake facts, users have gone viral by lying and subsequently spreading fake news. 

An extreme example: People on TikTok are obsessed with "manifesting." The BASIC concept of this is that through thinking enough about something you want becoming a reality, your "energy will will it to really occur." Someone on TikTok edited government documents and to make them say that the CIA said manifesting really works. It took a scary amount of scrolling through comments before I found the first: "this is fake wtf." Don't believe anyone in their right minds would actually think this video is real? One of my family friends seriously does. 

A more normal example: "Biden used to support the KKK." The comment section: "I knew Bernie should have been the nominee" "Yeah, I've been saying he's racist" "TRUMP 2020" "He was involved with Epstein too!!!" 

I've come across countless videos of people literally spewing fake news and noticed that the vast majority of people in the comments are believing this stuff- users are rarely leaving the app to fact check, and TikTok doesn't have a good system for regulating the spread of fake news. 

I'm all for youth engagement of politics, but if it's on the basis of lies, it's doing more harm than good. It's scary to see how vulnerable and gullible the youth is. One final disclaimer before I end this rant- I've believed some pretty crazy stuff online, too. 

Can some "good tech" companies please come save the world? We need you! 

Isis Decrem

@isisdecrem

Thinking about thought

eunonia

the mind of an american teenager

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