“Did you see this on TikTok?” seems to be one of the most popular conversation starters nowadays, as most of our favorite social media platforms feature these short video clips that capture users’ attention. TikTok has a widespread influence as it publishes funny moments, advertising campaigns, and global news to 1 billion users. Such substantial power over media content comes with great responsibility, which TikTok is noticing as conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensifies both in the field and in their app.

Content creators have started taking advantage of the incoming news from Russia and Ukraine in their frequent TikTok updates. At the start of Russia’s invasion, many users witnessed a video featuring soldiers parachuting over what was assumed to be Ukraine. After further investigation, this footage proved to be outdated, but viewers were led to believe otherwise. Additional footage has used audio clips and video content from video games and other aged uploads that are perceived to be related to current events, but in reality have no connection.

TikTok is raising its standards as the platform now has to regulate posts to try to authenticate the content. With the Russia-Ukraine conflict being broadcasted on the app, TikTok is gaining criticism for the spreading of fake news, as videos do not have time stamps to warn users that the clips used are not current.  With the For You page reflecting the user’s activity and interests on the app, people are quick to believe what this page shows them, making it easy for the world to misinterpret influencers’ unverified content regarding this conflict. 

Twitter has also involuntarily joined in this conflict. When a verified Ukraine account posted a tweet encouraging the app to remove a Russian account, Twitter faced a unique situation of navigating how to regulate communication between these two countries on what is intended to be a lighthearted app. Instagram saw a different side of Russia-Ukraine focused media, as many fled to this site in efforts to stop encouragement of the war, with images and bold captions sharing their feelings to followers throughout the world.

These social media platforms are undoubtedly an effective way to spread information to the public, but without proper regulation, users are going to interpret world news differently than perhaps intended. Despite this trend of sharing unreliable war updates, some influencers are genuinely using their platforms to answer questions and inform users of the situation between Russia and Ukraine. One Russian TikTok creator has shared his view with followers to simply help them understand the current environment of his home country. With the United States having the top TikTok numbers with 131 million users aged 18 and above, this content is valuable for those unfamiliar with the countries involved in this conflict; however, the maintenance of factual information and respectful TikTokers is crucial to ensure that TikTok, and every other social media outlet, is fulfilling expectations of accurate news regarding this developing situation. 

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