A quick update on the investigation shared with you this morning; you can now read TikTok's reply in The Irish Times, who are leading with the story, and I will paste the company's response below too. They are sticking to their line that they ban political ads, so showing no signs of upping their compliance game. Let's see how this develops. Any ideas, tips or leads, as always, email or DM me.

(The Times also have a brilliant front page story by Conor Gallagher on the how of viral disinformation: Anatomy of a fake story: How anti-immigration candidates spread false information to boost their profile. It is behind the paywall - reach out if that is a barrier to you reading this brilliant piece).

Why I partnered with the Times on this

I decided to share the story with The Irish Times before sending it out on the newsletter for 2 reasons.

I wanted to give TikTok a proper right of reply, and to make sure that the story passed muster when exposed to journalistic standards. I also know from bitter experience, that the best way to get platforms to act is to have a journalist from a known brand call them.

The action I want to see from them is not to remove a few ads, but to build a proper infrastructure that allows for transparency. Honestly, I don't think that a ban on people wanting to use the world's most zeitgeisty platform to spread political messages is possible without human in the loop oversight of all ads, something not enabled by the automated systems they and others use.

But we are also less than a week out from the election, and I wanted a public audience for this - it is important that voters know that what they see on their feeds is unregulated.

I am a few months into this newsletter, and really proud of the community of 300+ subscribers who have kept me motivated by actually opening and reading what I write. So - thank you!

And as always, really do reach out and let me know what you think, you can email or DM me.

TikTok's response

Here is TikTok's reply, from The Irish Times story.

TikTok says it has “long prohibited political advertising, including both paid ads and creators being paid to make branded political content”. However, a series of searches on the platform’s ad library shows multiple ads for candidates running in the local elections.


A representative for the company said: “TikTok does not allow paid political advertising, and this content has been removed from our platform.” However, while this statement was being delivered ads were still visible on the site.

Update: The Briefing investigation leading the Irish Times, plus TikTok replies