TikTok’s looking to enhance the educational value of the platform, with the addition of a new STEM feed, a new topic stream in the app that will focus on content related to science, technology, engineering, and math.
As explained by TikTok:
“Education-based communities already thrive across TikTok. In fact, STEM-related hashtags have received over 110 billion views to date, connecting a dynamic community of people over shared interests. We’ve designed the STEM feed to serve as a destination for those looking to dive into these enriching topics further. Whether encouraging aspiring scientists to work out experiments in comments sections or helping a new programmer learn to code, the STEM feed provides a space for co-learning, inspiration, and enrichment.”
The project, created in partnership with Common Sense Networks and Poynter, will provide a range of educational insights based on scientific exploration, with these third-party organizations helping to confirm content accuracy, and keep the feed stocked with informative, helpful content.
It’s an interesting approach by TikTok, which could be another way for the platform to highlight its potential value to US regulators, who are still considering its future in the region.
It also, in some ways, mirrors how the Chinese version of TikTok, called ‘Douyin’, operates, in promoting more positive, educational content, as opposed to the dancing and prank videos that often fill TikTok user feeds.
On Douyin, positive, inspirational topics, like ‘Positive Energy’ and ‘Knowledge Sharing’, get the most promotion and reach in the app.
That’s part of the Chinese Government’s push to manage what young people see, with the idea being that by promoting more positive trends, that will inspire the youth to aspire to more beneficial and important elements, via Douyin trends.
Maybe, through the promotion of a dedicated STEM feed, TikTok’s also looking to highlight how this approach can have a positive impact, in order to mitigate concerns about dangerous trends and harmful usage, which can reduce kids’ attention spans and incentivize negative behaviors.
That’s not to say that TikTok’s looking to implement controls like the CCP, but maybe, there is a way for TikTok to showcase more positive elements, as a means to appeal to regulatory bodies, and reduce concerns around the app.
Maybe that won’t work, but the concept does have some merit, especially when you consider the amount of time that kids now spend scrolling through their TikTok feed every day.
If that could be more geared towards positive, educational elements, maybe that would be a good thing. Not to the level of the stringent controls implemented in China, but an additional nudge for educational content might not be bad.
We also know that TikTok is already skewing trends by manually interfering with the algorithm, so it can change what people are seeing.
Maybe a little more weighting toward learning could help.
TikTok says that it’ll be rolling out the new STEM topic feed to US users later this month.