A recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center found that an increasing number of Americans are using TikTok as their primary news source.

Since 2020, the proportion of people who routinely access news on TikTok has tripled, with about 10% of US adults now doing so. 26 per cent of adults under 30 falls into this category.

Those who already use TikTok are changing how they use the app, increasingly turning to it as a news source in this situation. Up from 22% in 2020, one-third of adult app users claim they acquire their news from the service. In contrast to other platforms, where Pew found that news consumption was flat or declining, TikTok is becoming more of a news app. In 2020, for instance, 54 per cent of Facebook’s adult users reported getting news there; today, that percentage is down to 44 per cent. Over one-third of users of YouTube, meanwhile, have remained stable over the past few years and access news there.

It is not surprising that TikTok may be used by young adults to supplement or replace other news sources. The New York Times published an article regarding Gen Z’s use of TikTok as a search engine last month (my colleague David Pierce tested it for a few days, and it worked surprisingly well).

TikTok long ago ceased to be the kid-friendly dancing app. But even within the past year, significant news events have been covered on TikTok, keeping viewers enthralled with rapid-fire video updates. In February, when Russia invaded Ukraine, Ukrainian war influencers emerged through the algorithm, reporting on the situation while millions watched via a short video. Supporters of Johnny Depp provided updates from the defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber Heard on TikTok in real-time, along with analysis and conspiracies. The number of the producers’ audiences grew as they manipulated the social media circus by posting content that supported Depp.

TikTok has battled to control false material about subjects including the Ukrainian War, Abortion, Elections, and COVID-19 as more people turn to the platform for news. According to a recent NewsGuard investigation, disinformation was present in over 20% of the videos that a TikTok search returned.


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