TikTok Is Becoming a Hotbed of Brand Misinformation

White House Slams App Stores for Being Monopolies

(RepublicanReport.org) – What do Target, Kohl’s, Hobby Lobby, Heineken, Chick-fil-A, Bud Light, Barilla, Balenciaga, and Anheuser-Busch all have in common? According to Newsweek, all of them have fallen victim to a new form of misinformation spreading across TikTok. Videos promoting vicious, AI-generated lies about these companies have reportedly accrued over 57 million views.

The New York Times warned readers last year about the trend, which has only continued despite efforts to fight the problem. It notes that deep fakes, false headlines, and content edited to create misleading narratives have become rampant across the social media platform. While much of what circulates on the video-sharing site appears to be harmless fun, other elements have become an increasing concern for some experts. During a time when conspiracy theories and political differences are dividing the nation, such manipulations can become downright dangerous.

The recent fake news on Hobby Lobby is a prime example of the growing problem. Newsweek shares that images of demonic statues alleged to be on the Christian-based craft store’s shelves recently went viral, with the content’s distributor expressing confusion over the item’s placement. In fact, the statues never existed. They were generated using AI software by someone who purposely meant to mislead consumers.

Just as concerning, site searches on brands like Target and Anheuser-Busch prompt suggestions such as “Target boycott 2023” and “Anheuser-Busch ceo is a cia operative.” The issue becomes even clearer in the face of the fact that TikTok has become a popular source of where people go to find information, and some people are using it in place of Google and other search engines. Newsweek reports that about 20% of results appear to lead viewers to misinformation and experts have warned users need to be extra savvy to avoid falling for these fake stories.

ZDNet recommends users investigate sites before taking the bait, checking a website’s age, number of followers, and overall content before deciding it’s legit. Sources that only post “rage-baiting” are probably just spin, whereas reliable news sites are more likely to offer pieces that are notably less biased or divisive.

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