Misinformation on the Ukraine Crisis through TikTok
March 28, 2022 by Maryam Faruqi
TikTok is one of the most popular apps among Generation Z. In March of 2021, around 50% of active users in America were using the app daily (Statistica). While this app can have fun videos and content, it can also be very misleading and spread false information to the vulnerable public. Currently, TikTok is being flooded by videos about Ukraine and the crisis happening there. Instead of trusting more credible sources, many people, especially the youth, are now going to TikTok to understand what is happening. This can prove dangerous as many of these accounts are unverified and anonymous. For instance, one TikTok video recently showed a bombing in Beirut, Lebanon in 2020 and claimed that this video was currently shot in Ukraine. According to a New York Times Reporter, another stated that 13 Ukrainian soldiers from a Ukrainian newspaper died, when this was in fact not true: “Ukrainian officials later said in a Facebook post that the men were alive and had been taken prisoner, but the TikTok videos have not been corrected.” (Sheera Frenkel 1). Another video used an audio uploaded before the Russian attacks to demonstrate the violence taking place in Ukraine. Additionally, the youth is susceptible to believing fake news, so their main source of the Ukrainian war can be from videos that should be taken down. Now, I’m not saying all current videos of the crisis in Ukraine are harmful. Some can be great in stirring sympathy and raising concern. Valeria Shashenok, for instance, is a Ukrainian photographer and is becoming famous on TikTok for showing her life in a bomb shelter in Chernihiv, Ukraine. Shashenok shows clear evidence of the city, the destruction, the rubble, and more. There was one video in which she showed shattered glass windows to show the impact of the bombings. Plus, if the source on TikTok is knowledgeable in the field and the citations are listed and credible, then we have reason to believe the information presented to us. Overall, it is important that we notice the misinformation on the Ukraine crisis being presented to us in TikTok and try to eliminate it as a community. Not only will we do ourselves a favor, but we can also collectively allow Generation Z to receive the right information for them to help make a difference.