TikTok To Extend Its State-Controlled Media Label to 40 More Countries

TikTok, a major player in the social media industry, announced recently that it would expand its “state control media” label in over 40 international markets.

The decision was made to control the spread of fake news about the Russian-Ukraine conflict. It’s an expansion of the TikTok pilot program, which was initially launched in Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine last year, just after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The “State Control Media” label is displayed on the videos to inform users that the Government influences or controls the videos’ editorial output and decision-making.

So if a user clicks on this “state control media” label, they’ll get detailed information about why this label is showing on the video and what it means.

At the program’s initial launch, the label was only shown in accounts handled by Russian media organizations like Ruptly, RT, RIA, Sputnik, Tass, Novosti, and other Russian media handles.

Our goal in labeling state-affiliated media is to ensure people have accurate, transparent, and actionable context when they engage with content from media accounts that may present the viewpoint of a government.Justin Erlich, Global Head of Issue Policy & Partnerships, Trust & Safety

Furthermore, TikTok stated that they’ve been working with experts to decide which accounts are considered government-influenced.

Companies and individuals labeled as “state control media” can, however, appeal if they believe the decision to label their account was unfair.

It includes consultations with 60 political scientists, academics, media experts, and representatives from different civil societies and international organizations from around the world.

The company considers various factors, such as editorial policies, the publication’s mission, staff, leadership, and funding, to determine whether the “State control media” label should be displayed on the account.

TikTok’s recent “state control media” label program has displeased a Beijing-based video entertainment app firm.

Entities who believe they’ve been incorrectly labeled as government-influenced media can submit additional information and evidence to prove their editorial independence.

The evidence will be evaluated, and input will be sought from independent experts. If it’s determined that the entity doesn’t meet the criteria for state-affiliated media, then the label will be removed.

Other Social Media Platforms With “State Control Media” Labels

While the move may be perceived as progressive, it’s worth noting that other social media platforms have offered similar labeling systems for state-run media for years.

For instance, YouTube started labeling state-funded broadcasters in 2018 and blocked monetization through the advertisement of many Russian state-run channels last year.

Other social media platforms also have similar policies in place since the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

Since 2020, Facebook has also been labeling state-controlled media on its platform. Due to “unequal treatment against Russian media and information resources,” the Russian government stated earlier that it would block Facebook within its borders.

Even last year, the Russian communication agency demanded an explanation from TikTok regarding the removal of specific stories from a state-owned news agency.

Additionally, Musk-led Twitter has had a policy in place since 2020 to label state-owned media. After the Russian-Ukrainian war, Reddit went one step further by removing all links from state-run media in Russia.