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Hate Speech Fake News Technology

TikTok races ahead of Facebook, Google and Twitter in fight against harmful content


By John Glenday, Reporter

February 9, 2021 | 4 min read

Facebook, Twitter and YouTube lagged behind TikTok and Reddit at moderating harmful content such as hate speech and misinformation during the second half of 2020, according to IPG IPG Mediabrands Media Responsibility Index.


TikTok races ahead of Facebook, Google and Twitter in fight against harmful content

All platforms took 'meaningful' steps forward in terms of policy enforcement but the bi-annual report credits short-form video app TikTok with taking the greatest strides of all nine major social media platforms.

How social media platforms rank on responsibility

  • IPG's Media Responsibility Index weights the performance of nine social media platforms in ten areas such as child wellbeing, transparency, and misinformation.

  • This established across-the-board improvements among all participants from the first half of 2020 with Facebook but Facebook, Twitter and Facebook made smaller strides than their peers, despite the former clamping down on false and misleading content propagated by QAnon conspiracy theorists.

  • YouTube scored poorly for failing to significantly revise its misinformation policies over the period but made up ground thanks to its efforts in improving the wellbeing of children.

  • At the other end of the scale, TikTok showed the greatest advance after being credited with partnering with outside specialists such as Openslate to protect advertisers and handing greater content control to users.

‘Meaningful steps’ towards policy enforcement

  • Across the board, improvements were found across hot button issues such as misinformation, election integrity and health proving that brands can and will respond as circumstances demand.

  • Joshua Lowcock, chief digital officer, UM, and global brand safety officer at Mediabrands.“Our Media Responsibility efforts, which were the first in our industry, have made a significant impact on how the platforms are operating.

  • “The fact that we have the support of the 4As and other industry bodies, shows that Mediabrands is at the forefront of advancing policy on media responsibility and brand safety to protect our society from harm.”

  • Comes against the backdrop pressure on platforms and advertisers to buy into more responsible media

  • Key to the turnaround was a dawning realisation that the status quo was no longer tenable, particularly in the hot-blooded arena of US politics where a disillusioned minority of voters feel ostracised from mainstream politics and who seek alternate outlets for their grievances.

  • This manifested itself in the notorious Capitol coup after a mob stormed government buildings, forcing a pause in advertising as brands sought to disassociate themselves from shocking scenes beamed across TV news bulletins.

  • Wariness of being tarnished by association has seen brands such as P&G, Google and Lego pen a joint manifesto pledging to 'suffocate' harmful content by cutting off the supply of advertising cash to content that is deemed to be harmful.

  • Mindful of a developing consensus in broader society Facebook, YouTube and Twitter have adopted a common set of definitions for hate speech and harmful content, drawn up in partnership with the Global Alliance for Responsible Media.

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