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TikTok pressed on Russian ‘propaganda’

Social media giant TikTok has been taken to task by US senators over reports it has allowed Russian state-approved media content.

“Recent reports indicate TikTok … has allowed Russian state media to flood the platform with dangerous pro-war propaganda,” said a letter to TikTok’s Chief Executive Shou Zi Chew signed by six US Republican senators.

“No company should find itself in the position of amplifying the Kremlin’s lies, which fuel public support for Russia’s war of choice in Ukraine.”

The senators wrote they were “deeply concerned” TikTok “is enabling the spread of pro-war propaganda to the Russian public, which risks adding to an already devastating human toll for both Ukrainians and Russians.”

The Russian Embassy in Washington did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

TikTok said in a statement to Reuters the company was looking forward to continuing to engage with members on these issues and answer their questions.

In March the Chinese-owned video app said it would suspend live-streaming and the uploading of videos to its platform in Russia as it reviewed the implications of a media law signed by President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.

The senators said TikTok has failed “to equally enforce this policy” and cited a news report that said it “appears TikTok belatedly closed this loophole on March 25”.

The letter added the “misleading, pro-regime content that flooded the service has not been taken down, creating an easily-accessible archive of pro-war propaganda” and asked TikTok to answer a series of questions.

TikTok, owned by Beijing-based internet technology company ByteDance, is one of the world’s most popular social media apps, with more than a billion active users.

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