Home » TikTok says it disrupted 15 influence operations this year — including one from China

TikTok says it disrupted 15 influence operations this year — including one from China

by NBC News

TikTok on Thursday released its first report detailing efforts to remove “covert influence operations” from its platform, noting 15 such campaigns including one from China that targeted people in the U.S. with the intent to promote “Chinese policy and culture.”

The report said the campaign was relatively small — 16 accounts with 110,161 followers — and operated from China.

“The individuals behind this network created inauthentic accounts in order to artificially amplify positive narratives of China, including support for the People’s Republic of China (PRC) policy decisions and strategic objectives, as well as general promotion of Chinese culture,” TikTok said in the report. “This network utilized accounts impersonating high-profile US creators and celebrities in an attempt to build an audience.”

A separate network of 65 fake accounts worked together to amplify pro-Iranian narratives to audiences in the U.S. and the U.K. before TikTok took down the network in February, according to the company. TikTok said the network had an audience of 116,612 followers. 

The pro-Iranian accounts “initially posted content associated with travel and tourism in order to build an audience, before switching to political topics,” including the war between Hamas and Israel, TikTok said. 

TikTok found larger networks aiming to influence a wide variety of political discourses including those in Bangladesh, Venezuela, Indonesia, Ecuador, Serbia, Germany and Guatemala. It also posted details about how it defines and looks for “covert influence operations.”

Few other social media platforms put out similar reports on efforts to break up influence campaigns. Facebook-owner Meta puts out a quarterly “Adversarial Threat Report.”

TikTok’s report adds to growing concerns about the use of social media to manipulate the upcoming U.S. election as well as elections scheduled to take place around the world. TikTok has also been the subject of intense scrutiny over its…

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