TikTok movies pushing QAnon, COVID conspiracies surge in recognition

TikTok videos promoting QAnon and anti-vaccine conspiracies are growing in popularity despite a crackdown by the popular social media app. This emerges from a new report shared exclusively with USA TODAY.

False claims are spreading under the hashtag # GlobalRebellion4Freedom, including a shadow government building FEMA internment camps and Bill Gates and Dr. Anthony Fauci, Causing COVID to Benefit From It.

And these TikTok videos are reaching a wide audience. Views rose from 17,600 on March 5th to 1.1 million views on March 29th, according to Advance Democracy, a research organization studying disinformation and extremism.

Advance Democracy searched for the hashtag on Facebook and Twitter and found few posts.

After TikTok was alerted by the US TODAY, it removed the 10 celebrity accounts promoting the hashtag # GlobalRebellion4Freedom.

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“TikTok announced last year that it would remove content and accounts related to the QAnon conspiracy and misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines. However, this month there is a massive spike in a hashtag correlating to both, “said Daniel Jones, president of Advance Democracy.” Now, more than ever, social media platforms need to ensure that they do not amplify dangerous conspiracy theories that are likely to adversely affect public health. “

In a statement, TikTok said that content and accounts promoting QAnon are in violation of the Disinformation Policy and will be removed from the platform.

“We have also taken important steps to make this content more difficult to find in search and hashtags by redirecting the associated terms to our community guidelines,” the statement said. “We’re constantly updating our security with misspellings and new phrases as we work to make TikTok a safe and authentic place for our community.”

TikTok also says it prohibits content that is false or misleading, including misinformation related to COVID-19 and vaccines.

Concern about the spread of falsehoods, jokes and conspiracy theories on TikTok has increased with the platform. TikTok is known for its viral short videos. It’s popular with children and teenagers and has at least 100 million users in the US

Starting last year, TikTok took a number of steps to contain QAnon, and TikTok said it would clean up misinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines.

Liberal media monitoring group Media Matters recently reported that TikTok’s recommendation algorithm led users to extremist accounts like QAnon and militias like The Three Percenters and The Oath Keepers.

TikTok said it removed the accounts and content mentioned in the Media Matters report.

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