False claims about Covid vaccines – including that the Australian Prime Minister faked receiving his vaccine – were among the hundreds of Australian videos TikTok has removed from its platform as part of a crackdown on disinformation.
In February, Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Redbubble, Apple, Adobe and TikTok signed a new voluntary industry code aimed at tackling misinformation and misinformation online.
On Friday, the organization representing the companies, Digi, published the first annual reports on how tech giants implement code obligations.
In the social video platform TikTok Report, the company revealed that it removed 651 videos mentioning Covid-19 or coronavirus between October 2020 and March 2021 for violating the company’s disinformation policy. Another 222 videos were deleted for posting false medical information.
Some of the false claims made included that Prime Minister Scott Morrison had “faked” the Pfizer vaccination despite a clear vision of him receiving the shot; a false claim that Health Minister Greg Hunt’s diagnosis of cellulitis was due to receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine; and a false claim that the AstraZeneca vaccine had caused “80%” of members of the Australian Navy to “serious side effects”.
TikTok is working with Agence France-Presse (AFP) to verify claims made about Covid-19, and forwards those verified claims to company moderators.
Almost 20,000 Australian videos at that time also had a Covid-19 information tag added, directing users to health sources. In cases where a video‘s claims have been reviewed but not yet substantiated, users will receive a pop-up warning suggesting not to share the video.
Twitter reported that between July and December of last year, 3.5 million accounts worldwide were prosecuted for violation of the rules, of which 1 million were suspended. A total of 4.5 million tweets, banners or avatars were deleted for violation of the rules. Regarding Covid disinformation specifically, 3,400 accounts were the subject of action against them, including 600 suspensions, and 3,900 tweets, banners or avatars were deleted.
For accounts violating the company’s electoral integrity policy, 6,500 people were prosecuted, of which 50 were suspended. A total of 8,100 tweets, banners or avatars were deleted.
In Australia in particular, 37,000 Twitter accounts have been prosecuted for breaking the rules, including 7,200 suspensions. A total of 47,000 tweets, banners or avatars from Australian accounts were deleted.
Just over 50 have been prosecuted for violating Covid-19’s disinformation policy, and less than 10 have been suspended. Only 50 tweets were deleted. More than 40 Australian accounts have been prosecuted for violating the electoral integrity policy, and 70 tweets, banners or avatars have been deleted under the policy.
Redbubble, the Australian market where users can make their own products, reported peak sales of merchandise with anti-vax labels, reaching over $ 15,000 by mid-2020.
The company said it has removed 81 products created in Australia in violation of its harmful disinformation policy, including items labeled “plandemic”, “David Icke” and various anti-vaccination labels.
Facebook said on Friday it had removed more than 110,000 erroneous Covid-related information generated by Australian accounts in the pandemic’s first year.