TikTok bans political fundraising as Chinese-owned app seeks to avoid US firestorms

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Political advertising was already prohibited, but now politicians from around the world are banned from accessing monetisation features such as gifting, tipping and e-commerce that could be used for fundraising. Infringers could have videos deleted by moderators or be blocked from accessing TikTok altogether.

TokTok said: “By prohibiting campaign fundraising and limiting access to our monetization features and verifying accounts, we’re aiming to strike a balance between enabling people to discuss the issues that are relevant to their lives while also protecting the creative, entertaining platform that our community wants.”

A spokesman for the Chinese-owned business said no specific incident had prompted the latest crackdown. The company cited the threat of “harmful misinformation”, in an echo of the wave of Russian-backed manipulation which engulfed Facebook during the 2016 presidential election campaign.

Attempts by Mr Trump to force the sale of TikTok’s western business Microsoft or another US tech company fell through amid opposition from the Chinese government, which described it as a “smash and grab raid”.

Joe Biden, Mr Trump’s successor, reversed executive orders that would have forced its sale.

In August, TikTok launched its US-focused Elections Centre, a set of pages in its app focusing on how to register to vote in the US. The US midterm elections will take place in November.

TikTok’s most recent crackdown on politicians comes after the Houses of Parliament deleted its official TikTok account in August over security concerns.

Parliamentary officials were “unable to reassure MPs that the company could prevent data transfer to ByteDance, should the parent company make a request for it” according to a document obtained by the Business Insider news website.

Controversies have erupted on TikTok over elections in Western countries. In the summer, Australian officials were forced to ask TikTok staff to delete footage of election administrators inside polling stations after users began posting videos claiming they were “rigging the election”.

ABC News reported in August that the Australian Election Commission stepped in to block false information about widespread ballot tampering and rigged voting counts from being spread on the Chinese-owned video sharing site.

TikTok previously said its moderators will monitor the site for “misinformation about how to vote, harassment of election workers, harmful deep fakes of candidates and incitement to violence”.

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