TikTok and Gen Z = Politics

Gabriel Brevet, Staff Writer

Tiktok has become a prominent force in the social media world, growing to popularity levels on par with apps like Twitter and Instagram almost overnight. Now, just as all of these other major social media apps influenced the public perception of celebrities and politicians, we are seeing how Tiktok is shaping perspectives and getting younger generations involved in current world issues. While the parent company of the app has refused to allow political ads and claims the app doesn’t take any political stance, many users are taking matters into their own hands in expressing views and sharing videos of protests, rallies, and speeches. Tiktok has grown exceptionally in popularity for contemporary world affairs, especially due to many creators’ ability to discuss serious topics in a joking manner and cover very prominent topics in only 15-60 seconds. According to The New York Times, Tiktok depicts a diverse group of millions of people that are not exactly united in views or beliefs, meaning everyone has equal opportunity to find a group they share views or interests with. It’s helping tremendously in getting the younger generations not only involved in world issues they would otherwise be unexposed to, but donating, signing petitions, and taking action to see the changes they want to see in the world. 

The app has been under constant fire for having a political agenda or censoring subjects the Chinese government finds to be sensitive, but the app’s parent company continually denies any affiliation and claims to be unbiased in video removal (videos are only taken down for violations like sexual content, drug or drug paraphernalia use, or copyright issues) and in prevention of all political ads [from BBC]. As a consistent user of the app, I can confirm that I personally have never received any political ads (all of mine have related to Apple, Android, and various products endorsed by popular creators) and there is no political bias in how the app’s content is generated and distributed (this is taken from personal experience, so it is not a guarantee). Obviously over time one sees more videos corresponding with their interests and beliefs, but that’s caused by the “for you page”’s algorithm which detects what you’re interested in based on what you like and shows you more videos relating to those subjects, not the app itself trying to sway you one way or another. Tiktok’s lack of bias is a major benefit of the app that some other major social media outlets can fail in (ie Facebook, Twitter, etc.), which is very helpful for teens and young adults who are just starting to find their footing in politics. We can all easily be influenced by the media we consume, and it’s reassuring to know that the algorithm isn’t biased in one direction or the other.

All aspects of bias aside, its ability to involve and engage younger generations in politics is something to be celebrated. TikTok has become notorious for everyone getting their five minutes of fame, as anything can gain millions of views in minutes and no one ever knows exactly what will blow up, so it encourages its users to stay active and aware. With the app being so anti-political, it’s very interesting to see just how many creators are choosing to use their voice and their platform to inform people about important issues. Making memes and jokes out of serious and dark issues to make them a bit easier to stomach is becoming our generation’s way of getting involved, and not only is it effective, it’s becoming a new satire culture in itself [NBC]. Satire is getting more of our generation involved than ever, as comedy and memes are a language we understand and respond to, and it’s helping encourage us to do our research and stay on top of current issues. Despite being labelled by some sections of the internet as “cringe comedy”, the content created on TikTok has been spreading like wildfire from one app to the next and having just as much of an impact on the internet as any of the other main powerhouse social media apps [NBC]. 

Political involvement is crucial for all generations in determining how effective they will be in the progress of the country and in the world, and social media is becoming a large component of how the younger generations get involved. The media we all consume on a daily basis is a huge factor in what we care about, so apps like TikTok encouraging us to stay updated and informed on world issues and elections could be a strong starting point for our generation in making our mark.