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

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

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By Nuurrianti Jalli

Students and political observers have raised issues over public opinion maneuvering on social media in Southeast Asia as three international locations within 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 through Fb, Twitter, and YouTube to push for a political narrative to garner extra supporters within the area.

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

TikTok supplies distinctive options enabling propaganda to achieve a higher public, as its content-sharing mannequin is novel in comparison with its predecessors, the place it doesn’t depend on the variety of followers however as a substitute focuses on the content material itself.

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

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

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

Whereas tech firms like Fb, Twitter, and Google have taken critical 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 via their group pointers.

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

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

Nevertheless, political propaganda continues to be rampant on the platform, for instance on the “stay” part of the platform.

The “stay” 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 stay characteristic posed a particular problem on account of its synchronous actual time-streaming nature, which makes AI monitoring much less efficient in comparison with people in content material moderation.

However, counting on 24/7 human monitoring of stay movies is unrealistic as it’s inconceivable and economically impractical to rent sufficient workforce to watch thousands and thousands of content material uploaded on TikTok each day.

Subsequently the subsequent finest manner is to harness group engagement by growing a group flagging system to assist establish content material in violation of its coverage.

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

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

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

These could possibly be replicated on TikTok through the Southeast Asian elections contemplating the platform gained reputation within the area prior to now three years.

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

Whereas fact-checkers can solely achieve this a lot, residents also needs to be properly outfitted with the proper abilities to test data for themselves.

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