TikTok, a leading destination for short-form mobile video, has come together with leading organisations such as the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ Malaysia), INITIATE.MY, Jom Check, Pusat KOMAS, and Bersih (The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections), to collectively share their learnings from the 15th General Elections, and foster civic and election integrity in preparation for the upcoming state elections.
With experts, NGOs, research groups, and fact-checking organisations in attendance, the workshop saw the exchange of valuable insights such as user patterns, trending searches, and keywords that were observed during the General Elections. This resulting analysis provided for greater discussion centring around tactics and strategies such as content guides, fact-checking systems, and monitoring and moderation approaches which can greatly inform regulators, election observers and online platforms in their collective goal to ensure that online platforms will remain safe and informed spaces for Malaysian internet users. This workshop also aims to foster a continuous dialogue between TikTok, its safety partners, and authorities in Malaysia on maintaining civic and election integrity by encouraging internet etiquette among users through education and awareness.
In TikTok’s commitment to promoting a safe and welcoming app environment for its community, the platform reiterated its pledge to user safety and work towards civic and election integrity, while strongly emphasising the importance of a multi-stakeholder approach that promotes accountability, transparency and responsibility when it comes to content creation and moderation in Malaysia.
“The safety of our community is our top priority. There’s no finish line when it comes to protecting our community. We are committed to fostering a place where users can create and share authentic content and this is even more so during crucial national events such as the state elections. We believe that keeping the online space safe takes continuous effort and this requires a three-way collaboration between TikTok, our users, and external stakeholders. That is why we are working closely with leading organisations to develop proactive measures and solutions to uphold the integrity of our platform and the authenticity of our users,” said Hafizin Tajudin, TikTok Malaysia’s Head of Public Policy.
During today’s event with its safety partners and organisations that work with TikTok in fact-checking and content reporting, TikTok further expanded on its commitment to safety, explaining that the platform’s Community Guidelines have been updated recently, particularly with regards to Misinformation, and Civic and Election Integrity. These outline clear policies and regulations regarding political use and promotion, and discussions about civic and electoral processes, which helps to ensure that the platform effectively fosters productive dialogues and enables informed discussions and ideas.
Within this section of the Community Guidelines, TikTok had also highlighted its Government, Politician, and Political Party Accounts (GPPPA) Policy, which outlines the criteria for TikTok political accounts and the key features made unavailable to them, such as fundraising, advertising and monetisation. In light of the upcoming state elections, the platform had also presented its Election Integrity work, and its efforts with various independent fact-checking organisations such as AFP to ensure that content on TikTok remains factual and informative. Both efforts are part of TikTok’s larger #SaferTogether campaign aimed at educating its users on responsible and safe internet use.
During a panel discussion featuring TikTok and a few of its safety partners, such as the Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ Malaysia), Jom Check, and INITIATE.MY, the panel shared insights from the 15th General Election, which can be invaluable lessons to foster civic and election integrity to the upcoming state elections. These discussions centred on the strategies and efforts needed to combat content or accounts that involve spam or fake engagement, impersonation, or misleading information that causes significant harm.
Dr Sabariah Mohamed Salleh, Lead Coordinator of Jom Check, a Malaysian fact-checking coalition, presented her organisation’s GE15 report, detailing the observations and patterns from GE15, and the lessons that can be applied to the upcoming state elections.
“While academe and media outlets can join hands in assisting with fact-checking, civil societies can aid with spreading awareness of accurate information. The goal is to empower Malaysians, highlight issues and false claims which may affect their opinion on politicians and political parties, guiding voters to make better-informed decisions in deciding the country’s fate,” concluded Dr Sabariah Mohamad Salleh, during her presentation.
Wathshlah Naidu, Executive Director of the Centre for Independent Journalism, added that “the 15th General Election emphasised the importance of improving digital literacy among internet users, and also the collective responsibility and cooperation between platforms, authorities, fact-checking organisations, research groups, the media, and individuals, in our goal to combat misinformation. Each one of us has our part to play in creating a safe online environment that educates and inspires rather than misinforms and vilifies.”
Also present during the event is Faqcheck Lab – an organisation supported by teams from three different Universities, that looks to provide platforms and authorities with the context and research necessary to accurately assess content. Their respective teams are dedicated to identifying, verifying and reporting on information spread over various platforms that could potentially mislead audiences.
“INITIATE.MY is committed to tackle the growing dangerous narratives in the digital space and its spillover effects in the physical space, especially in reaction to controversial political and social events that could fuel hate and violence among the Malaysian public. In light of the upcoming state elections, we look forward to working alongside other relevant stakeholders that include civil society organisations (CSOs), online platforms such as TikTok, and the law enforcement authorities such as the MCMC and the PDRM, in our collective goal to make the internet a positive space, and curtail the spread of misinformation, hate and intolerance,” said Hisham Muhaimi, Project Coordinator at INITIATE.MY