TikTok is banning AI deep fakes and fake endorsements from the social media platform, a company statement says. Growing pressure on the Chinese parent company Byte Dance has led to an update of the platform’s content policies.
More and more governments and related organisations around the world have implemented employee bans on the app due to espionage concerns. The number is growing each week, with the most recent to report being the BBC, who have advised staff to remove the app from their work-approved devices.
The majority of the rules are the same, apart from the section concerning AI deep fakes. These deepfake videos are becoming more and more popular as recent months have shown.
The rules regarding “synthetic and manipulated media,” say all realistic AI-generated and edited content must be “clearly disclosed” as such, either in the video caption or as an overlaid sticker.
Additionally, TikTok says it won’t allow any synthetic media that depicts a public figure either endorsing a product or violating the app’s other rules relating to violence, hate speech, and sexual content. The company defines public figures as anyone 18 years of age or older with “a significant public role, such as a government official, politician, business leader, or celebrity.”
Whilst the majority of deep fakes are used for comedic purposes, there is a more insidious side to them. Politics and elections can be swayed in surprising ways, particularly if a population doesn’t need much persuasion.
A deepfake circulated online recently of President Biden appearing to sing the children’s hit song “Baby Shark” in the middle of a speech. While it seems harmless and amusing, alarmingly, some people actually believed it was real. They truly thought their President had lost his mind.
Of course, a lot of these updates to TikTok are coming immediately at a time when the app is under scrutiny for its associations with the Chinese government. The US is threatening to ban the app altogether from US soil if they don’t bend to demands for Byte Dance to sell its stake in the company.
While the company hasn’t directly addressed these issues, they are promising “much more transparency about our rules and how we enforce them.”
Is the clock ticking for TikTok, or can the app out-manoeuvre these foreign governments? Only time will tell.