TikTok (the social media app that ByteDance Ltd. owns) has banned fundraising and any other moneymaking opportunities on the platform for politicians and government accounts.
The network bans all political advertisements, as well as any posts paid for by influencers. New policies also prohibit donations and e-commerce, as well as accepting gifts from users. Political accounts will automatically be ineligible for making money through TikTok’s Creator Fund, according to a statement from the company’s president of global business solutions, Blake Chandlee.
The move is in anticipation of the US midterm elections, which will provide a fresh test for social media companies and their ability to maintain a neutral stance as debates—and potentially coordinated influence campaigns—rage on their services. The company stated that TikTok will begin a mandatory verification trial for accounts belonging politicians, governments and political parties. This test will continue until the midterms.
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“By prohibiting campaign fundraising and limiting access to our monetization 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,” Chandlee said in the statement.
TikTok has tried to distance itself form its parent company and is now back in the US regulatory spotlight. Senators are asking about China-based employees’ access to user data. Concern about China’s influence on TikTok’s Beijing-based owner also extends to potential propaganda campaigns. One government body responsible for public relations tried to set up a TikTok stealth account in order to target Western audiences in 2020. This was rebuffed by the company.
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