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How to navigate misinformation on TikTok

A young journalist’s take on avoiding misinformation on the content-heavy app.

It’s the home of dancing, whipped coffee, makeup and more! TikTok is a video streaming platform holding a power over the youth, whether it’s influencing fashion or music trends. 

Navigating misinformation on social media is vital especially during the pandemic that’s fraught with high political tensions. Luckily for users, TikTok works with fact-checking partnerships to verify election-related misinformation and foreign influence on the platform. 

TikTok does not identify itself as the “go-to app to follow news or politics” but as a user it’s hard not to be swayed by the videos.

Videos shared on the platform feel personal and intimate. Many creators have the unique quality of feeling like just one of your friends. It can be difficult to find out what is false and real. 

“Our Community Guidelines prohibit misinformation that could cause harm to our community or the large public,” said Tiktok General Manager Vanessa Papas in an official statement.  She continued: “We always strive to be more transparent about our policies and content moderation.” 

How to fact check

To go beyond what the app promises, here are a few tips on how to fact check.

  1. Be skeptical of viral claims
  2. Consider the source
  3. Take in everything –  not just the headline
  4. Check the author
  5. Check the date
  6. Cross-verify with other news sources

The answers will begin to fall into place. Additionally, there are many fact checking websites that can help you, like FactCheck.Org and Reuters. Knowledge is power; staying informed and staying skeptical can help you avoid misinformation on social media. 

Misinformation spread on TikTok does not just remain on the app. It spreads dangerously. In a recent event, a girl was sued by Kim Kardashian for spreading false information about Kanye West and Jefferee Star being in a relationship. 

The news spread like wildfire taking to Twitter, Instagram and more. Ultimately, the account that posted the video admitted it was just an attention grab and she did not regret her decision. 

It was apparent how quickly false information can spread from the app to become household topics. Next time you see a sensational headline, do your homework. 

What accounts to follow

Many reputable news sources have TikTok accounts. Notably NBC News, BBC Radio 1, The Dallas Morning News and The Washington Post. 

The accounts use fun Gen-Z ways to share the hot topics of the week. The Washington Post often uses popular TikTok audios to poke fun at something interesting in the news while also informing their audiences. Recently, they used a popular audio to joke about America rejoining the Paris Agreement.


The Biden administration will opt into a multilateral effort to distribute vaccines around the world, reversing two decisions by the Trump admin.

♬ original sound – Joe Floww


While it may seem like the platform is drowning in content, find out what you like and follow those accounts. Keeping up with pop culture trends and the news are achievable on TikTok if you know who to follow.


Sophia Ungaro
Sophia Rose Ungaro is Culturas resident writing intern. Ungaro hails from San Pedro, California. Growing up with a Navajo/Meztizo mother and a Sicilian father has given Ungaro a unique perspective on the world. In 2021 Ungaro will graduate from the University of Southern California with a B.A. in Journalism. Her beats are race, pop culture, and entertainment.
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