The popular short-form user video platform TikTok has announced the tightening of its policies around political accounts using its hosting service, such as those belonging to political parties, politicians and government in South Africa.
The move comes as the app, owned by China’s Byte Dance, and other social media platforms are working to clamp down on political misinformation after years of being criticised for allowing such content to flourish on their services.
The changes look intended to limit political grifting with an incoming ban on the use of monetisation features (such as tipping, gifting and e-commerce) or on using the platform to directly solicit campaign donations.
TikTok in SA confirmed to TimesLIVE the policy affects users and political parties in the country.
The network already prohibits political ads, including paid-for posts by influencers. The new policies will additionally bar requests for donations, e-commerce capabilities and accepting gifts from users.
Political accounts will automatically be ineligible to make money through TikTok’s Creator Fund, according to a statement from the company’s president of global business solutions, Blake Chandlee.
“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 relevant to their lives while also protecting the creative, entertaining platform our community wants,” Chandlee said.
Specifically, they will not have access to features like gifting, tipping, and e-commerce, and will be ineligible for our Creator Fund.
“These changes, along with our existing ban on political advertising, mean that accounts belonging to governments, politicians, and political parties will largely not be able to give or receive money through TikTok’s monetization features, or spend money promoting their content.”
Chandlee added that government bodies will be allowed to advertise in “limited circumstances”, which includes public health and safety. However, in such cases, they will be required to work with a TikTok representative.
Another change introduced to the platform is the mandatory verification for “accounts belonging to governments, politicians, and political parties.” This new policy will start with the United States as the country approaches its midterm elections.
Below are the five South African political parties and politicians’ accounts on TikTok:
• Democratic Alliance (DA)
The official opposition party has more than 46.6000 followers and more than 292.000 likes.
• Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)
An unverified EFF account has more than 4,000 followers and more than 73,000 likes.
An unverified ActionSA account has more than 2,000 followers and more than 7,000 likes.
• Ronald Lamola
An account in the name of the justice and correctional services minister has 289 followers and 352 likes.
• AbaThembu King Buyelekhaya Dalindyebo
The account @abathembukingdom has more than 25,000 followers and more than 72,000 likes.
According to chief Mthunzi Ngonyama, a council member and the king’s spokesperson, the TikTok account is an extension of Dalindyebo’s public engagement with people.