May 29, 2022
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TikTok is propagandists’ new tool to win elections in Southeast Asia

TikTok is propagandists’ new tool to win elections in Southeast Asia

By Nuurrianti Jalli

Students and political observers have raised considerations over public opinion maneuvering on social media in Southeast Asia as three international locations in the area — the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia — are gearing up for elections.

Propagandists’ strategic maneuvering of public opinion on social media stays a harmful risk to democracy in Southeast Asia. Over time, strategic use of cybertroopers in Southeast Asian international locations has been distinguished, particularly through the election durations.

Political actors have tried to sway public opinion by way of Fb, Twitter, and YouTube to push for a political narrative to garner extra supporters in the area.

Now, TikTok, as essentially the most downloaded app in Southeast Asia, would function a new strategic tool for propagandists to push for political narrative through the electoral interval.

TikTok gives distinctive options enabling propaganda to attain a better public, as its content-sharing mannequin is novel in contrast to its predecessors, the place it doesn’t depend on the variety of followers however as an alternative focuses on the content material itself.

This implies anyone who may create “interesting-enough” content material can land on the “for you page,” opening doorways of alternatives for political opportunists to push for political narrative by creating participating audio-visual content material.

With its really helpful system, radical propaganda may end result in extremism amongst fanatical followers as TikTok would push for comparable content material to customers. This mannequin may create an data bubble that will feed customers with sure narratives and affect their worldview.

Not like its predecessors, TikTok is comparatively new in the global-fame-game after a sudden burst of new downloads worldwide initially of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whereas tech firms like Fb, Twitter, and Google have taken severe steps to fight the misuse of their platforms by propagandists, TikTok doesn’t have as rigorous insurance policies.

TikTok has been closely criticized by students and media for permitting extremism to be on its platform, which led the tech firm to rebut with improved insurance policies by their neighborhood pointers.

Relying totally on in-house and AI monitoring framework and neighborhood flagging system, as an audio-visual platform, TikTok appears to battle to oversee content material its customers produce on its platform.

TikTok has established its newest neighborhood pointers to keep away from people’ misuse of the platform.

Nevertheless, political propaganda is nonetheless rampant on the platform, for instance on the “live” part of the platform.

The “live” characteristic on TikTok has been misused to unfold political narrative in a number of international locations, together with the US and Russia.

Not like the uploaded audio-visual content material, the reside characteristic posed a particular problem due to its synchronous actual time-streaming nature, which makes AI monitoring much less efficient in contrast to people in content material moderation.

However, counting on 24/7 human monitoring of reside movies is unrealistic because it is not possible and economically impractical to rent sufficient workforce to monitor hundreds of thousands of content material uploaded on TikTok each day.

Due to this fact the following finest means is to harness neighborhood engagement by growing a neighborhood flagging system to assist establish content material in violation of its coverage.

As normal elections in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Indonesia are looming, we should always not disregard TikTok as an area for political data warfare amid elections in the area.

Seeing how Russian influencers had been paid to disseminate pro-Kremlin propaganda on TikTok, my prediction, comparable traits extremely doubtless will occur in the Southeast Asian international locations.

Digital propaganda methods for disinformation campaigns that now we have seen on different social media platforms embody coordinated use of paid influencers, cybertroopers, bots, deepfakes.

These might be replicated on TikTok through the Southeast Asian elections contemplating the platform gained recognition in the area in the previous three years.

As data problems forward of the election are to be anticipated, one of many methods to mitigate data problems is by media and knowledge literacy efforts.

Whereas fact-checkers can solely accomplish that a lot, residents must also be properly outfitted with the appropriate abilities to examine data for themselves.

In Southeast Asia, media and knowledge literacy training are nonetheless behind in contrast to different components of the world, regardless of the present local weather of data air pollution. Whereas data problems won’t ever go away, equipping residents with the appropriate abilities would assist in mitigating its unfold. — The Dialog by way of Reuters

Nuurrianti Jalli is assistant professor of Communication Research on the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Division of Languages, Literature, and Communication Research at Northern State College in South Dakota, USA.

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