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Worries Grow That TikTok Is New Home for Manipulated Video and Photos

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The TikTok logo.

Manipulated media is spreading before the U.S. midterm elections on TikTok, whose policies prohibit digital forgeries “that mislead users by distorting the truth.”

Credit: Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press

The alligators of TikTok are not what they seem.

They appear in posts scattered across the video service, photoshopped into hurricane-flooded homes, blended into cheetah-pitbull hybrids or awaiting a wrestling match with a digitally engineered avatar of Tom Cruise.

And they are harmless, like much of the manipulated media on TikTok, warranting a few laughs and likes before slipping back into a relentless stream of content. But their existence worries people who study misinformation, because the same techniques are being applied to posts that sow political division, advance conspiracy theories and threaten the core tenets of democracy ahead of the midterm elections.

"This kind of manipulation is only becoming more pervasive," said Henry Ajder, an expert on manipulated and synthetic media. "When this volume of content can be created so quickly and at such scale, it completely changes the landscape."

From The New York Times
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