TikTok, the popular video-sharing app, has announced that it will begin removing content that spreads misinformation about climate change. This move comes after the company updated its community guidelines last month to include policies prohibiting videos that undermine “well-established scientific consensus” regarding the climate crisis. TikTok will still allow videos that discuss climate change policies, but only if they align with scientific consensus. The change took effect on April 21st, and any user searching for climate information on the app will be directed to “authoritative information” TikTok has partnered with the United Nations to provide.
In a report published in 2022, internet trust researchers at NewsGuard found that TikTok was rife with false information, particularly regarding climate change. They discovered search suggestions such as “climate change debunked” and “climate change doesn’t exist.” During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, searching for COVID-19 videos would also bring up suggestions that include “covid vaccine hiv.” TikTok had to remove more than 300,000 election-related videos and over 50,000 videos sharing COVID-19 misinformation.
The new policy on climate change also introduced new rules covering AI technology that creates content. Any digitally manipulated or created media on TikTok must now come with the appropriate tag, such as “synthetic,” “fake,” or “altered.”
The move by TikTok is a positive one for climate change advocacy, as it means that more accurate information will be shared with users. The spread of false information has been a significant challenge in the fight against climate change. By preventing misinformation from being spread on its platform, TikTok is playing a role in ensuring that individuals have access to accurate information on this critical issue.
The partnership with the United Nations is also a significant step, as it ensures that the information shared with users is authoritative and trustworthy. Users who search for climate information on TikTok will now have access to vetted sources of information, reducing the likelihood that they will be exposed to false information.