Conservative TikTok account Republican Hype House has been called out for posting a “breaking news” video containing false information meant to mislead voters. The video stated that due to the coronavirus pandemic, election day would now take place over a two-day period: November 3, 2020 was designated for registered Republicans and November 4 for all other parties. The problem is that this information is completely false and there remains only one election day—November 3, 2020.
TikTok officials have confirmed with Parentology that the video has been removed from the platform. Below is a copy of the video from Media Matters, which reported the video to TikTok.
TikTok and Political Hype Houses
Republican Hype House is a well-known conservative TikTok account. While the video was not created by Republican Hype House, it was created by an account affiliated with it. Accounts like Republican Hype House are seemingly created by young students and have a great presence on TikTok. They almost function like small news networks complete with a consistent cast of talking heads.
It’s not just young Republicans who have formed “hype houses.” There are a host of liberal and bi-partisan hype houses that use TikTok to promote their ideologies — and they seem to be working. A lot of young voters are using TikTok to get political news and information.
“I do feel like TikTok is cable news for young people,” said Sterling Cade Lewis, 19, in The New York Times; Lewis is a popular TikToker with nearly 100,000 followers. “CNN and Fox and big-name news media, those are all geared toward people who have honestly grown up with a longer attention span.”
TikTok is well known as a place for young people to take political action. Liberal TikTok users have flooded President Trump’s online store with bogus sales, and rallied users to get tickets to Trump’s Tulsa rally in hopes that no one would show up. However, that can swing both ways. If younger voters are relying on TikTok for political information, then a video that contains false information, especially about voting, is all the more troubling and could potentially impact real things like voter turnout.
TikTok confirmed in a statement to Media Matters that it “removed both the Republican Hype House video and the original video from the affiliated account for violating its policies, adding that it was working to prevent re-uploads of them.” It’s estimated that video had more than 40,000 views prior to being banned.
TikTok, who has been under increased scrutiny as of late, released new Community Guidelines in an attempt to clarify what will and will not be permitted on their platform. Violation of any of TikTok’s Community Guidelines could result in an account being banned from the platform.
“We remove content including video, audio, image, and text that violates our Community Guidelines, and suspend or ban accounts involved in severe or repeated violations,” a representative from TikTok tells Parentology. “Under certain circumstances, we will go one step further and report the accounts to relevant legal authorities to keep our community safe.” TikTok has also increased their fact-checking partnerships, added an in-app reporting function for election misinformation, and banned the use of manipulated content or “deepfakes.”
Even with all of the increased measures, TikTok may not be safe. President Trump signed an Executive Order that effectively bans TikTok in the United States, claiming privacy concerns. If this goes through, the app will not be able to receive any US advertising dollars, Apple and Google app stores will not carry it, and users who already have it will no longer be able to receive updates. Free speech advocates are currently fighting this order.