Sep 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

TikTok rolls out in-app elections guide

Image of the Tiktok logo on a smartphone.

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TikTok said Tuesday that it's debuting a new in-app elections guide to connect users with credible information about the elections from sources like the National Association of Secretaries of State, BallotReady, and SignVote.

Why it matters: The move comes amid scrutiny from the Trump Administration over whether the Chinese-owned app is a national security threat.

  • A judge recently ruled that President Trump's TikTok ban likely overstepped its legal authority. The Administration had tried to invoke a law that allows the President to regulate international commerce for national security concerns. The law has a carve-out for information systems or companies.

Details: The guide will be available in English, Spanish, and dozens of additional languages. It will be available on the app's "Discover page," which is less frequently visited than most users's main "For You" customized page, and it will appear when users conduct election-related searches.

  • It provides information about candidates at the federal, state, and local level, powered by BallotReady, as well as information about how to vote in every state from National Association of Secretaries of State.
  • It features educational videos about misinformation, media literacy, the elections process, and how to vote from MediaWise.
  • The guide also offers resources for specialized populations to vote, including students, people with disabilities, citizens overseas and people with pas convictions.
  • The company says that as a preemptive measure, it will link the guide at the bottom of videos relating to the elections and on videos from verified political accounts.

Be smart: As Axios has previously noted, TikTok has tried hard to stay away from politics, but as its platform grows, that's become more difficult.

  • "Our goal is to help keep TikTok a place where authentic content can thrive, and our elections guide reflects our ongoing effort to protect the integrity of our platform and the US elections," said Michael Beckerman, TikTok's VP, Head of US Public Policy.

The big picture: TikTok follows other major tech platforms in its efforts to provide election resources.

  • Most notably, TikTok rival Facebook, and its subsidiary Instagram, rolled out a voter information hub to direct users to credible information about the election last month. The company estimates that it helped 2.5 million people register to vote so far this year across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger.
  • Nearly 1 million people have registered to vote so far via Snapchat, which has also rolled out an array of voter information tools.

Go deeper: Big Tech pushes voter initiatives to counter misinformation

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