Russian state media is still posting on TikTok a month after the app blocked new content – ​​TechCrunch

TikTok has released a update Third on an effort to stem the flow of misinformation about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the company doesn’t appear to be effectively implementing its existing policies around the war.

Social networks Cut out new content originating in Russia in early March in response to a harsh new law in the country criminalizing “fake news” about the invasion, an offense now punished with lengthy prison sentences. But even as all new content in Russia appears to have been suspended on TikTok, several prominent Russian state media accounts are filling the information void.

“…Our highest priority is the safety of our employees and users, and under Russia’s new ‘fake news’ law, we have no choice but to suspend live streaming. and new content to our video service in Russia while we review the safety implications of this law,” the company wrote in a blog post on March 6. TikTok confirmed to TechCrunch that the pause on Russian-language content from last month remains in place.

TikTok says that it has now added labels to identify content from 49 Russian state-controlled media accounts. Those labels appear as an unobtrusive semi-translucent gray box at the bottom of the screen and are not visible on account pages on the mobile app. But despite carrying labels identifying them as “Russian state-controlled media,” some of those accounts continued to post fresh content.

TikTok account @ria_novosti

Russia’s state media agency @ria_novosti on TikTok.

Russian domestic news agency RIA Novosti still shares daily content about war and current events despite TikTok’s restrictions in the country. In recent days, that has included a video accusing the Ukrainian military of refusing to treat an injured civilian in the besieged city of Mariupol and another suggesting that Ukraine was responsible for the disaster. The horror was discovered after Russia withdrew from the Kyiv suburb of Bucha.

Forbes first reported that RIA Novosti and RT Editor-in-Chief Margarita Simonya, both Notable nodes in Russian disinformation activitiesto be still posting to TikTok as of March 7. More than a month later, both accounts are still active despite TikTok’s stated policy of blocking new content from Russia.

Sputnik Video’s last TikTok post was on March 29, while Sputnik’s spanish account @sputnik.mundo was last posted three days ago, warning of the alleged plan of “anchor n”. @zis ucranianos” intended to blow up a chemical depot in Donetsk – an ominous message that casts doubt on Russia itself switch to chemical weapons in the coming period of the war. Russia Today, perhaps the most popular news agency associated with the Russian government, continued to post war propaganda on TikTok until March 28.

From the end of February to the end of March, TikTok speak that it removed six networks and 204 accounts around the world for making “coordinated efforts” to shake up public opinion about the war while obscuring their true origins. The company’s fact-checkers added a reminder warning that content could not be verified to 5,600 videos related to the Ukraine invasion, and removed 41,191 videos of the war for violating its disinformation policy. in the same period, according to a new blog update From the company. None of the videos in Russian state media of the fight that TechCrunch viewed included an actual verification prompt when viewed or shared.

While TikTok has the ability to control the flow of new content out of Russia by monitoring users’ locations, it’s unclear why the company chose not to enforce rules on accounts it’s linked to. with the Russian government, even if those accounts are basically using workarounds to disguise their location. The company declined to comment on the filing.

Compared to how other major social networks are handling Russian state media during the country’s invasion of Ukraine, TikTok’s measures are relatively mild. YouTube has fully started block Russian state media outlets globally last month and Facebook and Instagram rolled out their own labels and reduce those accounts’ ability to reach a wide audience. Twitter took similar measures against state-backed media in 2020 and is now labeling and downgrade any links to Russian state-backed websites.

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