June 30, 2023 | BBC

TikTok fails to enforce content removal of climate change-denial videos, BBC investigation finds

In April, TikTok announced it would begin to remove videos or content that “undermines well-established scientific consensus, such as content denying the existence of climate change or the factors that contribute to it.”

However, a new BBC investigation found hundreds of climate change-denying videos in English, Spanish, Turkish, Arabic, Portuguese and Russian, on TikTok. The BBC reported 365 English-language videos to the platform and found that only 5% were removed within 24 hours.

ISD’s Head of Climate Research and Policy, Jennie King, features in the BBC’s article on the investigation, speaking on the enforcement contradictions: “Rules become irrelevant, if they’re not applied consistently, accurately and fairly.” Adding that people to try “to game the system even more, because they know they can ultimately act with impunity.”

Speaking on the investigation with BBC World News, Jennie brings up two important questions: can social media platforms really enforce policies like these as they are communicated to users; are these policies the right approach to begin with?

The BBC research “shows that the first of those questions is blatantly no,” she said. “They made an announcement in April that they were going to take a content removal approach to climate denial and that is not happening across the platform.”

On the second, she questions if this is the right approach. “Platforms in general have tended to focus on content moderation writ large, because its something they can announce to the public; it seems like they’re being proactive. But in practice they are both unworkable and largely unconstructive. And part of that is because you would need tens of thousands of moderators sitting all across the world” reviewing millions of posts a day.

She continues: “What they’re not willing to confront head on are some of the architectural problems in these social media platforms that relate to their business model. And the fact to keep users engaged and browsing, they are recommending content that is incendiary, mis- and disinformative, and in some of the worst cases hateful or extremist.”

Her commentary can also be found on Radio 4 Today (starting at 38:29).