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TikTok shut down 2 networks of pro-Russian influencers who tried to mislead users about the war in Ukraine

Stephanie Stacey   

TikTok shut down 2 networks of pro-Russian influencers who tried to mislead users about the war in Ukraine
  • TikTok uncovered two networks of pro-Russian TikTokers last year, TikTok said in a report on Thursday.
  • Most of these accounts operated from Russia but pretended to be based in Europe.

TikTok said it shut down two coordinated networks of about 1,700 pro-Russian influencers who attempted to use the platform to mislead Europeans about the Ukraine war.

Most of the accounts operated from Russia but pretended to be based in Europe, according to a report released by TikTok on Thursday.

The accounts used speech synthesis software, a tool on the platform that converts text to artificial speech, to amplify pro-Russia propaganda in various languages and primarily targeted users in Germany, Italy and Britain.

The accounts amassed more than 133,000 followers before being identified and removed by TikTok between July and September last year.

This information was disclosed in a report that analyzed data from TikTok's operations in Europe between mid-June to mid-December. It was compiled in compliance with the European Union's 2022 Code of Practice on Disinformation, which aims to counter online content that is harmful, but not necessarily illegal.

TikTok has previously been criticized for facilitating the spread of online misinformation among its large Gen Z audience. Last year, a study by misinformation monitor NewsGuard found that one in five search results on TikTok contained misinformation.

In its report, TikTok said that Russia's "war of aggression" in Ukraine has "challenged us to confront a complex and rapidly changing environment."

It said it had invested in efforts to counter harmful disinformation after the war began last February such as using native Russian and Ukrainian speakers for content moderation.

In a blog post that accompanied the report, TikTok public policy director Caroline Greer said the platform was able to help find innovative solutions to these "long-standing industry challenges."


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