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TikTok revamps guidelines to address AI, climate change misinformation, and more

TikTok logo with AI in the background

TikTok is updating its community guidelines which includes new policies related to AI and climate change related misinformation, as well as more detailed policies on civil and election integrity, and age restrictions. The change comes ahead of a potential ban for TikTok in the United States, and continued scrutiny around the globe.

Perhaps the most notable update to the guidelines is on synthetic or manipulated media that shows realistic scenes. TikTok will now require creators to clearly label any content created or modified by AI technology to avoid any confusion between fact and fiction. It will also not allow synthetic media of public figures if the content is used for endorsement, violates any other policy, or could mislead people about real-world events. The new guidelines around AI go beyond TikTok's current policy that only prohibits synthetic or manipulated media that misleads users by distorting the truth of events and causes significant harm to the subject of the video, or to other people or the society.

TikTok has also added a new section for addressing climate change misinformation, prohibiting content that undermines well-established scientific consensus. There's also changes to the company's existing policies, including adding more detail on its approach to government, politician, and political party accounts. It treats content from these accounts the same as any other account, but it has different content-level enforcement for these accounts. The company also has a new section that explains age restrictions for young users. Access to overly mature content will be limited only to adults that are 18 years or older.

There's also a more in-depth explanation of the the type of content that is limited, such as content that features significant body exposure, seductive performances, sexualized posing, allusions to sexual activity by adults, human and animal blood, excessive consumption of alcohol and tobacco by adults, activities that could lead to physical harm, and cosmetic surgery that does not come with risk warnings. The guidelines include a brief section of each rule explaining what it allows and doesn't allow, along with the justifications.

The new guidelines are important for TikTok as a response to increased scrutiny among governments and private companies across the globe. The app has already been banned on government devices in multiple countries, including the U.S., the U.K., New Zealand, and Canada and recently, even for employees working for the BBC.

Although it did not address the ban directly, TikTok says that it wants to offer more transparency about its rules and how it enforces them. The new guidelines will take effect on April 21, 2023 and the company says it will provide additional training to moderators to help enforce these updated rules when they start rolling out.

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