TikTok finds and shuts down secret operation to stir up conflict in Ireland

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TikTok has uncovered and shut down a secretive operation to influence Irish users and whip up social conflict.

The covert influence operation (CIO) network comprised 72 accounts with a total following of almost 95,000 users.

The video sharing platform’s work to find and remove the accounts was detailed in a report to the European Commission.

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TikTok is a signatory of an EU code of practice aimed at combatting disinformation and misinformation online.

The latest report covered the timespan from January to June this year.

“The network targeted Irish audiences,” TikTok said of the CIO in Ireland.

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“The individuals behind this network created inauthentic accounts; hyper-posted content with divisive views related to nationalism in Ireland, Japan, Russia, and Taiwan; and hyper-posted comments with similar low-quality content in an attempt to redirect TikTok users off-platform and to intensify social conflict.”

TikTok moved against similar covert influence operations in Russia, Poland and Germany.

The report also revealed that from March to June 2023, TikTok removed 67,013 fake accounts in Ireland. Those accounts were followed by 296,274 users.

In the first half of the year, TikTok removed 218,158 fake followers on accounts in Ireland and prevented 26,034,349 fake follow attempts.

There were also 144 accounts banned under TikTok’s impersonation policies.

A total of 2,165 videos were removed in Ireland because of violation of harmful misinformation policy.