Rep. Raul Ruiz cites Media Matters study about COVID-19 misinformation on TikTok while questioning company CEO Shou Zi Chew

Rep. Ruiz: “Media Matters found that a sample of 18 videos with COVID-19 misinformation were viewed over 57 million times”

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Citation From the March 23, 2023, House Energy & Commerce Committee hearing

REP. RAUL RUIZ (D-CA): Thank you Chair Rodgers. I echo my colleagues' concerns about TikTok's impacts on the health and well-being of the American public. As a doctor and the ranking member of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, I am troubled that TikTok is rife with medically inaccurate information, including dangerous misinformation and the intentional disinformation about COVID-19 and vaccines. TikTok's community guidelines state that the company will remove content or accounts that involve quote, “misleading information that causes significant harm” unquote. However, since the early stages of the pandemic, TikTok has been used as a platform for people pushing misinformation, disinformation, including by those casting doubt on the safety and efficacy of lifesaving vaccines. And despite TikTok’s pledge to address harmful misinformation, these videos are being viewed millions of times. For example, the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, found that a sample of 124 TikTok videos containing vaccine misinformation were viewed 20 million times. And Media Matters found that a sample of 18 videos with COVID-19 misinformation were viewed over 57 million times. Here's another shocking study. The Journal of American Medical Informatics Association found that when searching hashtag, quote #coronavirus on TikTok, almost 30% of the videos that came up contained misinformation. Videos in that sample containing a high level of misinformation were reviewed a median of 9.4 million times. Mr. Chew, what are – why are these dangerous videos falling through the cracks of your company’s efforts to enforce its own community guidelines and remove harmful misinformation?


SHOU ZI CHEW (TIKTOK CEO): Yes, any dangerous misinformation is – we partner with third-party experts to be able to identify and help us with subject domain expertise. And with the expertise that we recognize, we rely on those to develop policies, recognize and remove content.

RUIZ: Your efforts have failed. And they're dangerous.