TikTok, the short video hit owned by Beijing-based ByteDance, has launched an in-app guide to the US 2020 elections, saying it is aimed at providing “authoritative information as we continue our work to protect against misinformation”.
The guide from TikTok, which is working to restructure its US operations with Oracle Corp under pressure from the White House, offers information about candidates, how to vote in every state, and educational videos about misinformation and media literacy, according to a statement from the company on Tuesday.
The guide is powered by partner organisations including the National Association of Secretaries of State and voting information company BallotReady.
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“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, vice-president and head of US public policy at TikTok. “Interactions with this guide in our app have no bearing on future TikTok experiences, such as recommendations or ads.”
TikTok is not the only social media app rolling out features related to voting information.
Facebook said in June it had launched “the largest voting information campaign in American history”. Twitter rolled out its election hub earlier this month to help “people register and better understand the voting process during Covid-19, including early voting options, and feel informed about the choices on their ballot”.
Amid growing trade and tech tensions between the US and China, TikTok has been forced to divest its US operations to continue doing business in the country, after the Trump administration accused it of being a national security threat. TikTok has denied these charges but has worked on a deal to safeguard its US business.
In the latest development, a US federal judge on Sunday blocked the Trump administration’s ban on TikTok, because the move likely overstepped the president’s legal authority by blocking an information channel.
TikTok hit the headlines in June when President Donald Trump boasted that nearly 1 million people had signed up for an election rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Only 6,200 people showed up and many of the no-shows were reportedly teenagers on social media apps like TikTok, Instagram and Twitter, who signed up for the event with fake names or burner email accounts with no intention of actually attending.
This article TikTok launches in-app guide to US 2020 elections as part of its fight against misinformation first appeared on South China Morning Post