TikTok adds new rules for politicians' accounts ahead of the midterm elections

Politicians will be barred from using the app to ask for campaign contributions.

Dado Ruvic / reuters

TikTok is adding new rules for accounts belonging to politicians, government officials and political parties ahead of the midterm elections. The company says it will require these accounts to go through a “mandatory” verification process, and will restrict them from accessing advertising and other revenue generating features.

Up until now, verification for politicians and other officials was entirely optional. But that’s now changing, at least in the United States, as TikTok gears up for the midterm elections this fall. In a blog post, the company says the update is meant to help it enforce its rules, which bar political advertising of any kind, more consistently.

By verifying their accounts, TikTok will be able to block politicians and political parties from accessing the platform’s advertising tools or other revenue generating features like tipping. Accounts will also be barred from payouts from the company’s creator fund, and from in-app shopping features.

TikTok says it also plans to add further restrictions that will prevent politicians and political parties from using the platform to solicit campaign contributions or other donations, even on outside websites. That policy, which will take effect “in the coming weeks,” will bar videos that direct viewers to third-party fundraising sites. It also means that politicians will not be allowed to post videos asking for donations.

The new policies are the latest piece of TikTok’s strategy to prepare for the midterm elections. The company already began rolling out an in-app Elections Center to highlight voting resources and details about local races. But enforcing its ban on political ads has proved to be challenging for TikTok, which has had to contend with undisclosed branded content from creators. The new rules don’t address that issue specifically, but the added restrictions for campaigns and politicians will make it more difficult for candidates and other officials to evade its rules.