TikTok LAUNCHES IN-APP US ELECTIONS GUIDE AMID TRUMP’S ADMINISTRATION BAN THREAT
Amid U.S. data privacy concerns, TikTok launches an in-app feature focused on the 2020 U.S. elections while in the middle of fighting off Trump’s administration’s attempt to ban the short video app. However, as part of its ongoing efforts to protect its platform from misinformation, its in-app guide will provide its 100 million users with information about the candidates, media literacy, electoral process, details about how to vote, and educational videos about misinformation, and more.
Funny enough, the app elections guide will not be developed by the company (TikTok), rather, it will be produced by partner organizations powered by BallotReady, a voting information tool. While the guide that has been rolled out will be available in English, Spanish, and “dozens of additional languages”, according to TikTok. However, it’s readily accessible in the U.S. and users will be able to access this via TikTok’s Discover page or landing pages for certain election-related search results.
The subject app company will also be linking this guide at the bottom of election-related videos emerging from verified political accounts. Based on this, the CEO of BallotReady ‘Alex Niemczewski’ made it clear in a statement on Tuesday that: “On TikTok, we’re seeing how people, especially younger voters, are passionate about important issues and are ready to make their voices heard. We’re partnering with TikTok for their elections guide because younger voters often do not realize everything that will appear on their ballot, and we believe that TikTok can help them vote their entire ballot”.
TikTok launching such a guide under an administration that is determined to cede control of its local business to a U.S. company is a huge surprise. Although, this promises to be different from that of Facebook, which is designed to allow users to register for voting by sharing details within its app. For TikTok, users will be directed to an external website, which TikTok says is intended to protect user privacy.
In this election guide, each of these partner organizations is expected to function accordingly. BallotReady, for instance, will power the elections guide with indebt information about the candidates at the federal, state, and local levels, in both English and Spanish languages. Core details about how to vote in every state will be offered by the National Association of Secretaries of State. In the same vein, MediaWise will be responsible for the provision of educational videos about spotting misinformation and the elections process, including how to vote.
TikTok also went further to say that effort is made to include resources for voters currently faced with unpleasant circumstances. And as such will include information about voting as an individual with disabilities, meaning someone overseas will be enabled by SignVote, as a student, will be via the Federal Voting Assistance Program, with help from Campus Vote Project, and as a person with past convictions will be assisted from Restore Your Vote. However, TikT’k’s vice president and head of U.S. public policy ‘Michael Beckerman’ stated in a blog post that:
“Our elections guide is built with user privacy in mind, so a user must visit the website for a state or a non-profit for anything that involves sharing their information, including registering to vote. Interactions with this guide in our app have no bearing on future TikTok experiences, such as recommendations or ads”.
The latest move comes as the short video app faces immense scrutiny of the Trump administration, regarding Chinese-ownership and its handling of user data.
What’s your take on TikTok launching in-app election guide?