More on TikTok Managing the News Streams

June 14, 2024

dinosaur30a_thumb_thumbThis essay is the work of a dinobaby. Unlike some folks, no smart software improved my native ineptness.

TikTok does not occupy much of my day. I don’t have an account, and I am blissfully unaware of the content on the system. I have heard from those on my research team and from people who attend my lectures at law enforcement / intelligence conferences that it is an influential information conduit. I am a dinobaby, and I am not “into” video. I don’t look up information using TikTok. I don’t follow fashion trends other than those popular among other 80-year-old dinobabies. I am hopeless.

However, I did note “TikTok Users Being Fed Misleading Election News, BBC Finds.” I am mostly unaffected by King Charles’s and his subjects activities. What snagged my attention was the presence of videos which were disseminated via TikTok. These videos delivered

content promoted by social media algorithms has found – alongside funny montages – young people on TikTok are being exposed to misleading and divisive content. It is being shared by everyone from students and political activists to comedians and anonymous bot-like accounts.

Tucked in the BBC write up weas this statement:

TikTok has boomed since the last [British] election. According to media regulator Ofcom, it was the fastest-growing source of news in the UK for the second year in a row in 2023 – used by 10% of adults in this way. One in 10 teenagers say it is their most important news source. TikTok is engaging a new generation in the democratic process. Whether you use the social media app or not, what is unfolding on its site could shape narratives about the election and its candidates – including in ways that may be unfounded.

Shortly after reading the BBC item I saw in my feed (June 3, 2024) this story: “Trump Joins TikTok, the App He Once Tried to Ban.” Interesting.

Several observations are warranted:

  1. Does the US have a similar video channel currently disseminating information into China, the home base of TikTok and its owner? If “No,” why not? Should the US have a similar policy regarding non-US information conduits?
  2. Why has education in Britain failed to educate young people about obtaining and vetting information? Does the US have a similar problem?
  3. Have other countries fallen into the scroll and swipe deserts?


Stephen E Arnold, June 14, 2024


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