With at least 41 percent of its monthly active users between the ages of 16 and 24, the platform TikTok has steered away from political content, recently announcing that it will prohibit political ads prior to the 2020 election. 

In an article by Jake Pitre that appears on the online publication Mic, TC’s Ioana Literat, Assistant Professor of Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design, argues that TikTok might want to encourage political expression while also taking greater care to watch out for bad actors.

Ioana Literat

Ioana Literat, Assistant Professor of Communication, Media, and Learning Technologies Design (Photo: TC Archives)

“When young people hang out online, they do also talk about meaningful, serious topics, like politics, although they may talk about it in seemingly goofy ways, with memes and lip-syncing and dance challenges,” says Literat, who with Neta Kligler-Vilenchik, a communications and journalism professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, did in-depth studies of youth’s online political engagement following the 2016 presidential election.

“Yes, there is plenty of concerning political content on TikTok,” she says, “but I also see it as a meaningful outlet for youth political expression and discussion.”