Politicians and political parties are liable to the same community guidelines and sanctions as any other ordinary user on TikTok.
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TikTok aims to combat misinformation and provide Malaysian voters with easy access to credible information about the election process during the 15th General Election (GE15).
While maintaining its stance as an entertainment platform, TikTok has set in place strict community guidelines against fake news, hate speech and political advertising.
Speaking during an online forum that was audited by members of the media, TikTok Malaysia Head of Public Policy Kristoffer Rada explains that the content-sharing platform has specific measures in place that allows its users and content creators to have complete freedom when expressing their political ideologies as long as it’s not malicious in nature.
We have a dedicated and trusted safety team that is focused on ensuring that these guidelines are strictly enforced and fairly applied to everyone.”TikTok Malaysia Head of Public Policy Kristoffer Rada.
Kristoffer admits that although the platform’s system isn’t perfect, they encourage users to take action and report any content that violates TikTok’s ground rules—making it a collaborative effort between the platform and its users.
TikTok also has a specific channel to allow users to report and flag down content and creators who violate its community guidelines during GE15.
So what happens if someone violates TikTok’s community guidelines?
Kristoffer elaborated that violations (or repeated violations) may result in the removal of the video, a suspension or a permanent ban of the creator’s account. In extreme cases, TikTok also works with local authorities to address the issue.
When the action is bordering on criminal behaviour, we also coordinate and work with the relevant legal authorities to make sure that crimes are properly reported and such activities are not spread further on TikTok.TikTok Malaysia Head of Public Policy Kristoffer Rada.
TikTok will also be applying a Global Policy Changes for Government and Political Party Accounts (GPPPA) that prohibits political advertising: paid ads on the platform and creators that are being paid directly to make branded political content.
The GPPPA basically prohibits any form of monetization by politicians and political creators on the platform. This means that account holders cannot conduct any fundraising activities or use the platform to either receive or distribute any sort of “gifts”.
TikTok is also working with media agencies and universities to better cater its content during GE15 and foster critical thinking.
Specifically for GE15, TikTok has set up a special hashtag called “BeliaSediaUndi” to empower both creators and users with the tools to create, engage and gain credible sources of information during the election period.
In the lead-up to the election, TikTok has also created an election guide that will lead users to accurate and important information that they need to be aware of.
Users can also refer to a microsite for election-related news and updates that can be accessed via the search banner when users search for election-related terms such as “Belia Sedia Undi,” “GE15,” “PRU15”, “Malaysia Elections” or “Pilihan Raya”, post content, or start a live room using election-related hashtags.
Aira Azhari, who is the Senior Manager of the Democracy and Governance Unit at the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), welcomes TikTok’s initiative to enable Malaysian voters, particularly youths, to have access and a platform to engage in politics and governance.
She said that although a large majority of the rakyat are still in the dark when it comes to their rights and liberties during the election period, she believes that TikTok provides an avenue for the public to gain the correct information that they need to make informed decisions.
A lot of young people are not familiar with these issues. There aren’t enough interesting ways in which ( political ) information is being disseminated… Even though some young people might be disinterested in partisan politics, they are definitely interested in political causes… I think it’s quite challenging for young people to devote their time to long-form content like reading, and I think that’s a huge reason that content platforms like TikTok have exploded because it’s short, it’s snappy, it’s interesting.IDEAS Senior Manager of the Democracy and Governance Unit Aira Azhari.
Meanwhile, the Director of Strategy at KRA Group Amir Fareed Rahim said that, based on his experience, Malaysian youths are actively using TikTok to educate themselves about politics.
Youths that I’ve spoken to search to educate themselves through TikTok. It’s a different way of using social media… These (political) issues are prone to misinformation. In an election cycle when there are narratives pushed by political parties, there’s bound to be political spin, but safeguards provided by platforms like TikTok are very commendable.KRA Group Director of Strategy Amir Fareed Rahim.
He revealed that he has received some complaints from people in political spaces that they aren’t allowed to use the platform as freely as they want.
Which is good, because you want to make sure that the discussion is moderated.KRA Group Director of Strategy Amir Fareed Rahim.
Adding on to the discussion, Mediha Mahmood, Executive Director at the Communications and Multimedia Content Forum of Malaysia (CMCF) explained that among the best ways to counter political misinformation is with the dissemination of actual, verified information.
She said that users must be aware that they can’t rely solely on others to regulate the type of content they consume and that sharing content that they hate would only make it more viral.
We want to create a culture of self-regulation… Users need to know that they are empowered and they have the tools to conduct self-regulation on the kind of content they consume and share… Even if the content is correct, truthful and authentic, if it’s hateful if it’s offensive, and if it’s something you feel shouldn’t be posted, then you really shouldn’t repost it. So we don’t share or engage with such content.CMCF Executive Director Mediha Mahmood.
Mediha clarified that people, especially youths, must take initiative to fact-check the information that they are presented with.
According to Kristoffer, although TikTok allows genuine expression of political ideas, politicians and political parties who use the platform are advised to be mindful of the content they share.
He stressed that politicians are liable to the same community guidelines and sanctions as any other ordinary user, and no exceptions shall be given for any sort of violations made on the platform.
We do make it clear that political advertising is not allowed because we feel that it’s not consistent with the kind of community that we want to build on TikTok. Politicians and political parties can create their own accounts. However, we stress to these political parties that, when they do come on board, they are treated no differently from any other users in terms of the implementation of community guidelines.TikTok Malaysia Head of Public Policy Kristoffer Rada.
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