In light of our findings and TikTok’s latest moves to allow individual users to pay to promote their content to other people on TikTok, we are concerned that TikTok’s political ad policies don’t address how paid political influence occurs on the platform. In our research, we uncovered posts from influencers who have clear paid relationships with political groups and promote political messages on TikTok, despite TikTok’s policy “banning” political advertisements. Policies like these are only as effective as their enforcement—and in today’s fast-changing digital environment, policies can be circumvented as quickly as they are developed. This is why transparency and meaningful community oversight are critical to monitor where enforcement is falling short and where greater attention may be needed.
We urge TikTok to consider our recommendations in order to safeguard against potential harm, especially in light of their rapid growth and relevance to political discourse around the world. At Mozilla, we will continue to monitor paid political influence on platforms like TikTok, especially during heightened moments like elections.