TikTok takes stand for transparency, integrity ahead of elections

As South Africa marks three decades of democracy, ensuring fair and transparent elections is important.

In an era where traditional media converges with digital platforms, social media stands as both a means of transparency and a channel for misinformation.

The rise of social media over the years has transformed political communication. It  presents both opportunities and obstacles in the pursuit of a democratic process.

TikTok has sparked a new wave of political engagement

Platforms such as TikTok, a leading global tech company, have sparked a new wave of political engagement. This particularly among younger demographics.

With its accessible interface and viral content creation, TikTok has emerged as a potent tool for politicians, activists, and organisations. This for them to mobilise voters, raise awareness, and influence political dialogue.

Yet, the rampant spread of misinformation and disinformation poses a substantial threat to election integrity.

Addressing this challenge head-on, TikTok announced on Tuesday its firm commitment to safeguarding the integrity of elections. This ahead of South Africa’s upcoming democratic polls.

One of TikTok’s key initiatives is the establishment of an in-app Election Centre. It’s  developed in partnership with the IEC and leading civil society organisations. This dedicated hub provides users with access to authoritative information. This will be in multiple local languages. It’s aimed at empowering them to make informed decisions based on reliable sources.

Combating misinformation

Fortune Mgwili-Sibanda, TikTok’s Public Policy and Government Relations Director, confirmed this. He emphasised the platform’s dedication to combating misinformation.  “Protecting the integrity of our platform, particularly around elections, is a responsibility we take seriously.

“We are proud to be a place that brings people together. And we work hard to keep harmful misinformation off our platform,” he said.

In addition to the Election Centre, TikTok has implemented stringent policies against paid political advertising.  This ensures that politicians and political parties cannot leverage the platform for monetary gain.

Furthermore, the platform has invested in media literacy campaigns. It has partnered with organisations like Africa Check to promote critical thinking. This to also combat harmful misinformation.

Sarah Lubala is Info Finder & Media Literacy Editor at Africa Check. She highlighted the importance of media literacy in fostering an informed electorate.

“Media literacy provides individuals with the critical thinking skills. These are needed to distinguish credible information from misinformation and disinformation. Therefore enabling informed voting decisions,” she said.

Global fact-checking partners on board

Moreover, TikTok has collaborated with global fact-checking partners, including Code for Africa in South Africa. This to evaluate the accuracy of content and mitigate the spread of misinformation. Through these partnerships and initiatives, TikTok strives to create a safe and civil environment for its users. This particularly during the election period.

As the South African electorate prepares to cast their votes, TikTok’s commitment to transparency, authenticity, and civic engagement serves as a beacon of hope. This in the fight against misinformation.

Sy Mamabolo, Chief Electoral Officer of the IEC, lauded TikTok’s efforts in combating digital disinformation. He acknowledged the platform’s pivotal role in educating the community.  Also safeguarding credible elections in the process.

Authenticated educational information

The inclusion of authenticated educational information about the elections reinforces the importance of factual and positive content. This is vital in countering misinformation, Mamabolo noted.

“The burgeoning use of digital media in recent years has seen a corresponding surge in digital disinformation. Particularly on social media platforms. Electoral processes have not been spared.

“Left unchecked, this phenomenon stands to undermine the conduct of credible elections. We applaud TikTok for its efforts in educating the TikTok community. [In the process] combating the potential spread of harmful misinformation,” Mamabolo said.

Visit SW YouTube Channel for our video content 

Latest News