Earlier this summer, a Google executive admitted that TikTok was swallowing its core search business, especially among younger users. But that’s not all TikTok is being used for right now, according to a new study from the Pew Research Center. According to the findings of a report examining Americans’ use of social media for news consumption, 33% of TikTok users now say they regularly get their news on the social video app, up from just 22% in 2020.
Meanwhile, nearly every other social media site saw a drop in that same statistic — most notably Facebook, where now just 44% of users report getting their news there regularly, down from 54% just two years ago.
This data suggests that TikTok has grown from just a lip-syncing, dancing, and comedy entertainment platform to one that many of its users turn to to learn what’s going on in their world.
That may be a cause for concern, given TikTok’s connections to China — a topic it was recently urged to clarify during a Senate hearing on national security. The hearing followed the release of a BuzzFeed News report that discovered how China-based ByteDance employees regularly access the private data of TikTok’s US users.
If TikTok became one of the primary ways younger people in the US learn news and current events, the app could potentially be a channel for a foreign power to influence those users’ beliefs with subtle tweaks to the algorithm.
For now, however, TikTok is not a primary source of social media news consumption – that credit still rests with Facebook.
Pew found that 31% of US adults say they regularly get their news from Facebook, which is higher than the 25% who get their news from YouTube, the 14% who get it from Twitter or the 13% who get it from Instagram.
TikTok ranked fifth in this ranking as only 10% of US adults said they regularly get their news on the video app. (Of course, as TikTok’s sizable user base of those under 18 grows up, those stats could change quickly.)
LinkedIn (4%), Snapchat (4%), Nextdoor (4%), WhatsApp (3%) and Twitch (1%) were much smaller news sources among Americans, the survey also found.
In addition, Pew somewhat backed Google’s claim that it was losing traction over TikTok and other social media apps, noting that the percentage of American adults getting their news through web searches had fallen from 23% in 2020 to 18% in 2019. 2022 .
But it didn’t necessarily point to TikTok or any other social platform as winning, as the percentage of adults using social media of any kind for news consumption dropped from 23% to 17% between 2020 and 2022, as did other forms of news consumption such as news websites. and apps.
It’s not clear that any single platform is benefiting from these declines, as Pew did not detect a shift from digital news sources to others, such as TV, print or radio – all of which also saw a drop in news consumption.
Still, digital devices continue to outpace TV, Pew said, as the latter has seen its use as a source for news consumption drop from 40% in 2020 to 31% in 2022.
In addition, more Americans (53%) said they would rather get their news digitally than on TV (33%), radio (7%) or print (5%) – a response that has remained consistent since 2020.