Chinese social network TikTok replaces Google as the main source of news among young people

40% of the so-called Generation Z (People born between 1997 and 2012) use TikTok or Instagram to search for information in the United States. The information was provided by Google executive Prabhakar Raghavan, according to information shared by ThechCrunch.

In a discussion on the evolution of search, Raghavan explained that younger users now often turned to apps like Instagram and TikTok instead of Google Search or Maps for discovery purposes.

"We continue to learn, over and over again, that new Internet users do not have the expectations and mentality to which we have become accustomed. The queries they are making are completely different," Raghavan detailed, adding, "We have to evoke completely new expectations and that requires something completely new ... technology fundamentals," Raghavan argued.

'Space for disinformation'

Some news related to the war between Ukraine and Russia, for example, would have exposed TikTok as a space for spreading "false narratives" about the conflict, which would have generated the reputation of being a space for disinformation.

According to an investigation by the media outlet NewsGuard new TikTok accounts can be shown falsehoods about the Ukrainian war within minutes of signing up for the app.

The company, which monitors the reliability of web-based media, conducted a couple of tests to assess how the video-sharing application handled information about the conflict. It found that new accounts searching for information about the war were directed to false or misleading content within a 40-minute time frame.

Among the false claims the investigators found was the myth that the U.S. has biological weapons laboratories in Ukraine. TikTok also shared the allegation that an image of Putin had been doctored at a press conference he gave in early March.

Despite these revelations, TikTok defends itself: "We work hard to remove false and harmful information from our platform".

The fastest growing news source

According to a report published by communications office Ofcom, the TikToK app is currently used by 7% of UK adults as a news platform, up from 1% in 2020. TikTok is the fastest growing news source among adults in the UK.

Although TikTok has grown rapidly as a news source in the UK, it remains only the sixth most popular site among 16-24 year olds (where it is used by 27 percent of the demographic). Although it lags behind the BBC, Twitter and Facebook

"Today's teens are increasingly unlikely to pick up a newspaper or tune in to TV news, if not preferring to stay up to date by scrolling through their social networks," said Yih-Choung Teh, director of Ofcom' s strategy and research group in a press release.