The intervention of social media platforms on elections is becoming increasingly common. In 2016, there was talk about the influence Facebook may have had on the presidential election. Then there was talk of Russian manipulation of the social network and the exploitation of its data by data analysis companies such as Cambridge Analytics.
The second case is different, as it concerns intervention from the social network itself to intentionally favor the Democrats and harm Republicans. Twitter executives have already recognized their platform's intervention in the 2020 elections. Both its new owner, Elon Musk, and former safety executive Yoel Roth have admitted to it. Twitter censored the New York Post's story about Hunter Biden's laptop, which decisively influenced the final result.
TikTok in 2022
The latest intervention by a social network came in the last midterm elections, and once again, it was pro-Democrat and anti-Republican. The difference this time around is that this social network is in the hands of a foreign government with conflicting interests: the Chinese government through TikTok.
As reported by Forbes in an exclusive story,
TikTok accounts run by the propaganda arm of the Chinese government have accumulated millions of followers and tens of millions of views, many of them on videos editorializing about U.S. politics without clear disclosure that they were posted by a foreign government.
Specifically, these accounts are managed by MediaLinks TV. The company is registered as a foreign agent, and controls China Central Television, a channel under the Chinese Communist Party, based in Washington.
Critics of the Republican Party
One such TokTok account, @NewsTokss, was dedicated to producing and distributing videos against Republican politicians and in favor of Democrats.
One example is the selection of this testimony, under the headline "Cruz, Abbott, don't care about us":
@newstokss Angel Garza, stepfather of Uvalde shooting victim Amerie Jo Garza, urges people to go and vote. Garza says that #Republican lawmakers Greg Abbott and Ted Cruz have not reached out to the victim's families. But some politicians including #Democrats Beto O'Rourke and Roland Gutierrez have been there for them. #news #newstoks #uvalde #robbelementary #texas #gunsafety #guncontrol #gunrights #police #highlandpark #tedcruz #gregabbott #betoorourke #beto ♬ original sound - NewsToks
Another example comes from the following video from the Chinese government account, titled "Democrats are getting it done":
@newstokss Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, says that the Republican party is being seen as "extreme," and highlighted recent achievements by the Democratic party in the last six weeks. #news #newstoks #democrats #republicans #roevwade #guncontrol ♬ original sound - NewsToks
TikTok is the first foreign social network to gain widespread popularity in the United States.