Misinformation Monitor: September 2021

Toxic TikTok: Popular social-media video app feeds vaccine misinformation to kids within minutes after they sign up

‘He gets the va**ine and he dies after three days! What do you think?’

By Alex Cadier and Melissa Goldin
Additional reporting by Chine Labbé, Virginia Padovese, and Katharina Stahlhofen

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A video on TikTok, seen by a participant in NewsGuard's investigation, reads in Italian: "He gets the va**ine and he dies after three days! What do you think?" (Screenshot via NewsGuard)

TikTok feeds false and dangerous information about COVID-19 to children as young as nine years old quickly after they sign up for the platform, with little or no warnings, an investigation by NewsGuard found. 

The short-form video-sharing app, which is especially popular with children under 18, served up false and misleading COVID-19 claims within minutes to nine children recruited by NewsGuard and carefully supervised by their parents or other adult relatives. The barrage of toxic content — including videos asserting that the vaccines are deadly and that COVID-19 is a genocide conspiracy — came even though some of the children did not follow a single account or search for specific kinds of information.

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Main Image Credit: Photo by Solen Feyissa on Unsplash