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TikTok Bans Political Fund-Raising Ahead of Midterms

Less than two months before the midterm elections, TikTok is blocking politicians and political parties from fund-raising on its platform.

In a blog post on Wednesday, the social media platform said it would prohibit solicitations for money by political campaigns. The company said that political accounts would immediately lose access to advertising features and monetization services, such as gift giving, tipping and e-commerce capabilities.

Over the next few weeks, TikTok will clamp down on politicians’ posting videos asking for donations, or political parties directing users to online donation pages, the company said.

Accounts run by government offices will be slightly less restricted. TikTok said such accounts would be allowed to advertise in limited circumstances, such as when running educational campaigns about Covid-19 booster shots. But the people operating those accounts must work with someone from the company to run that kind of campaign.

The new rules will help enforce a ban on political advertising that TikTok, known for its short videos and younger-skewing audience, first put in place in 2019.

The company, which has more than a billion monthly users globally, continues to describe itself as “first and foremost an entertainment platform,” but the platform is increasingly drawing political content. Researchers who track online falsehoods say that TikTok is on its way to becoming a major hub of political misinformation, fueled by the same qualities that make consumer products and dance videos go viral on the platform.

In a campaign season already marked by conspiracy theories and aggressive rhetoric, TikTok has announced several steps to try to civilize and secure its platform. In August, the company debuted an “Elections Center,” a hub on the app with information about voting curated from authoritative sources and presented in more than 45 languages. TikTok said it planned to label posts related to the midterms with links directing users to the elections hub.

Starting on Wednesday, TikTok said it would test a requirement that political accounts in the United States be verified. TikTok also said it was trying to educate users about its sponsorship rules, which prohibit creators from being paid to produce political content.

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