Chine Labbé: The problems of scrolling and searching 

TikTok reaches a young target and is increasingly used as a source of information. Chine Labbé is here in the #NPDJ for speak about its algorithm favors misinformation, both by search and by scrolling.

Edited by Morgane Anneix and Juliette Laffont

© Eve Chenu

NewsGuard has conducted several studies on the TikTok algorithm. On average, it only takes 40 minutes to stumble upon disinformation via the scroll method: skipping content without doing any specific research. This seems quite long, but the fact that people under 20 on average spend 1h30 per day on Tik-Tok puts the number into perspective.

It implies that younger people statistically will be  exposed to disinformation via the app at least once a day. Fact-checking these contents therefore represents a real issue. Videos can be labelled as fake, but in reality, little difference is made between true and quality journalistic content and content that shares disinformation.

The search algorithm also is of poor quality, with a 20% chance of encountering false content when looking for information in the search bar. Preliminary checks do exist but the algorithm is easy to bypass, especially by replacing an O with a 0 (so electoral fraud for instance becomes elect0ral fraud). The search suggestions are also more polarised and tend to provide a non-negligible share of disinformation.

Tik Tok’s algorithm is hence fuzzy, and the amount of disinformation of concern.



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