The Daily Telegraph

Political fundraisin­g banned by Tiktok ahead of US elections

- By Gareth Corfield

TIKTOK has banned political fundraisin­g worldwide ahead of the US midterm elections, amid fears the Chineseown­ed app could be caught up in allegation­s of foreign interferen­ce.

Accounts owned by politician­s and political parties have been blocked from accessing advertisin­g features on the video-sharing app. Tiktok is also trialling compulsory verificati­on for accounts belonging to government­s, politician­s and parties, it said.

The moves highlight Tiktok’s nerves over potential political controvers­ies after Donald Trump’s 2020 suggestion of banning it from operating in the US.

Mr Trump said he viewed Tiktok as a national security threat owing to its ownership by Chinese company Bytedance. Concerns over Tiktok’s wide reach and access to personal data have since spread across the political spectrum in the US, however.

Political advertisin­g was already prohibited, but now politician­s are banned from accessing monetisati­on features such as gifting, tipping, and e-commerce that could be used for fundraisin­g. Infringers could have videos deleted by moderators or be blocked from accessing Tiktok altogether.

Tiktok said: “By prohibitin­g campaign fundraisin­g and limiting access to our monetisati­on features and verifying accounts, we’re aiming to strike a balance between enabling people to discuss the issues that are relevant to their lives while also protecting the creative, entertaini­ng platform that our community wants.”

A spokesman for the Chinese-owned business said no specific incident had prompted the move. It cited the threat of “harmful misinforma­tion”, in an echo of the wave of Russian-backed manipulati­on that engulfed Facebook during the 2016 presidenti­al election.

Attempts by Mr Trump to force the sale of Tiktok’s Western business to Microsoft or another US tech company fell through amid opposition from the Chinese government, which described it as a “smash-and-grab raid”. Joe Biden, Mr Trump’s successor, reversed orders that would have forced its sale.

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