TikTok and War in Ukraine: How the Platform Is Misused to Spread Disinformation

Elina Rudkovsky


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While a lot of people still view TikTok as an app with silly dances and weird trends, it has become increasingly obvious that this platform plays a huge role in social processes. After the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on 24 February, TikTok has been heavily used as a tool for spreading propaganda and misinformation. Because of such active involvement of the social media giant, the war in Ukraine has been referred to as the ‘TikTok war.’

Politicians are taking the platform more seriously than ever and even the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, encouraged people to use TikTok to spread truthful information about the war in Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, the content related to Ukraine has simply exploded reaching billions of views. The problem is that there has also been a huge wave of complete misinformation regarding the situation in the country. For instance, some users posted videos of explosions or even snippets from computer games to make viewers believe that these specific events happened in Ukraine. What is more, there are many paid users spreading Russian propaganda using the same written text.

As opposed to some other platforms, TikTok is particularly vulnerable to such issues. It is extremely difficult to fact-check posted videos, as people can post videos without showing their origins. Also, you cannot see when videos were uploaded and TikTokers mostly use pseudonyms to remain anonymous. Even though the company is working on flagging content that misinforms people, TikTok still has a long way to go to become a more responsible platform that won’t harm people on such a large scale.

What do you think about the role of TikTok in social processes? What features does TikTok need to prevent the spreading of disinformation? Please, tell us what you think in the comments below.