In Kenya, TikTok has been proven to foster misinformation and political tensions before elections.

News Sand DC
Source: TikTok

According to a new study from the Mozilla Foundation, TikTok is fostering misinformation and political conflict in Kenya ahead of the August general elections.

After evaluating 130 popular films including hate speech, provocation, and political misinformation, Mozilla came to this conclusion.

This was in violation of TikTok's policy against hate speech and the dissemination of discriminatory, inciteful, or synthetic material.

Even though the short films, which were shared by 33 accounts, violated TikTok's norms and policies, Mozilla Tech and Society Fellow Odanga Madung claimed the videos were not removed from the short video platform, which is one of the most popular social networks in East Africa.

Madung spoke with several TikTok content moderators and came to the conclusion that their lack of familiarity with the country's political context was one of the main reasons why some of the inflammatory posts were not taken down, resulting in the spread of misinformation on the social media platform.

Earlier this year, Madung looked at information published using "popular political hashtags, names of political candidates, major regions, political parties, and ethnic groupings." The movies used coded language and pejorative phrases (such as madoadoa), which are considered hate speech in Kenya and are prohibited by the Kenyan National Cohesion and Integration Commission, which is charged with reducing inter-ethnic violence.

"Kenya's democracy is marred by a history of post-election violence. Now, political misinformation on TikTok is agitating this very combustible political terrain, in violation of the platform's own standards. Meanwhile, TikTok has demonstrated that it is unable to fix this issue," Madung stated.

The investigation also discovered that several of the videos received more views than the reviewed accounts' followers, suggesting that algorithmic amplification was at work.

According to the study, "several of the videos are enjoying outsized viewing in proportion to their followership," implying that "the material may be obtaining amplification through TikTok's For You Page algorithm."

TikTok whistleblower Gadear Ayed was among the content moderators examined, and he stated it was usual for staff regulating the platform to be asked to check the stuff that was in context and in languages they didn't understand.

"Sometimes the platform's moderators have no idea who the entities in the films are, and as a result, the recordings might be let to propagate owing to a lack of context." "It's very uncommon for moderators to be requested to monitor videos in languages and circumstances that they don't understand," Ayed explained.

TikTok joins Twitter, WhatsApp, and Facebook as social media platforms that have been accused of generating disinformation and propaganda and influencing election outcomes in the past.

According to the report, TikTok targets a younger population that is readily affected and swayed by the material they consume on the social platform.

The executive director of Amnesty International, Irungu Houghton, was mentioned in the Mozilla report as stating, "TikTok's audience is significantly younger, and that worries me because they don't have the levels of political maturity or a strong value framework that may allow them to filter through such information."

"TikTok has to understand that the population they're working with is a formative generation, and as a result, the repercussions of such efforts are unlikely to be seen right away — but they may be felt for decades."

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