A study published on October 21 by Pew Research Center found that 10% of adults under the age of 49 receive their news via TikTok. Moreover, a quarter of U.S. adults under the age of 30 regularly obtain information via TikTok.
In 2020, Pew Research estimated that only 3% of U.S. adults consumed news media via TikTok.
An August study by Pew Research found that, apart from Instagram, the proportion of users who obtain news on other social media apps, such as Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, and YouTube was steadily decreasing.
By contrast, TikTok has seen an 11% jump in the proportion of users who consume news media on the platform over the past three years. As a result, 33% of TikTok users regularly obtain news from the site.
However, 31% of Americans report that they use Facebook to learn about current events and gather updates in the news cycle. Nonetheless, shifting demographics may change Facebook’s current dominance as the go-to social media site for news.
TikTok has a much younger audience than Facebook with half of its regular users below the age of 30. On the other hand, only 26% of adult users on Facebook are below the age of 30 with 40% between ages 30 and 49.
TikTok’s rise as an information hub may be disturbing to some because of its ties to China.
In 2020, former President Donald Trump vowed to ban the popular video platform claiming that it was no more than a Chinese spy app used to “spread propaganda and disinformation” according to the Trump administration.
Furthermore, a recent report in Forbes claimed that TikTok’s parent company, ByteDance, planned to use TikTok to track the personal location of certain American citizens. In response, President Biden has agreed to review the platform and address Americans’ privacy concerns.
Additionally, Byte Dance and TikTok spent more than $1 million on lobbying in the summer of 2022 hoping to “shield the company” from liability.
“It is time to drop the hammer on this hammer and sickle operation,” said Brendan Carr, the top Republican on the Federal Communications Commission. “TikTok cannot spend lobbying money fast enough to cover up for the deluge of reports coming out that expose TikTok for the national security threat that it is. The Biden Administration needs to end its review and ban TikTok now.”
In response to mounting criticism and questions regarding privacy, TikTok spokesperson Brooke Oberwetter told Bloomberg, “We are confident that we are on a path to fully satisfy all reasonable U.S. national security concerns.”
As more young adults consume news content on the platform, determining the validity of information becomes paramount to U.S. national security interests.