Why is there so much misinformation on TikTok

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I’ve been on social media for quite some time, but new to TikTok. The first thing I noticed is that the majority of the content is misleading if not completely false. Everything from financial advice, science, politics, etc.

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11 Answers

Anonymous 0 Comments

The way social media algorithms work is that they show you content similar to other content you’ve paid attention to (watched the whole video, liked, followed the creator, shared the content, etc).  For TikTok in particular, it shows the video to ten people, and if enough people in that group pay attention to it, it shows the video to a hundred people, and if it does well, it shows it to a thousand people, and so on.   

The information that people pay attention to and that people share tend to be easy to understand, provocative or unexpected, and/or provide a simple solution to a complicated problem. The problem is that information that is verifiably true is nuanced and complicated. It requires the user to sit with the video for a longer amount of time, consider complicated concepts that may be new to them, and consider how that fits in with their existing world view. It may make them uncomfortable because it doesn’t fit with what they think they know or because it asks them to change their habits. 

Basically, information that’s true is long, complicated, and boring. People don’t generally watch videos like that because they’re not fun, and social media is supposed to be fun.  I’m sure some people are taking advantage of this setup for propaganda purposes, and it’s possible that China is altering the algorithm to influence what viewers see, but I think the larger problem is just that people like misinformation more than they like the truth. 

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