🎶🎸UH oh….. Tory Alert….
(Disclaimer: Not me, incase you aren’t familiar with TikTok)
Yes Tiktok! it does seem to be this way. Therefore it is about time that there is a platform where people (generally young) can voice their political views freely without being prosecuted for it. Because we can look at these videos knowing some will be of a similar view point to our own, therefore this can enable our values to strengthen much more. Now whatever standpoint you have, there are going to be some videos you agree with, and others you don’t agree with. But least we can all have a laugh, and hopefully learn…
But Can we be too Judgemental?
White, Middle aged, Middle Class, Men from parts of Middle England. Who spend their days trekking about the golf course, mowing their enormous lawns oh and spoiling their daughters. Who probably attend private school. Yeah, a pretty decent group of people to make fun out of, especially when they tend to marginalize everyone else…
Alright, so we can say there is an element of truth in this, but come on. It is also pretty funny, but is confronting a rather shallow and really, inaccurate video really the best way to introduce young people to politics? As this mixed in with more informative sources is fine, however when a teenager is seeing this and nothing else, then consequently their views won’t be as developed. We need to also remember that the length of Tiktok videos are short, often meme based, and uplifting- usually featuring a dance. So can it really be able to depict the political world in a genuine manner. As in this way, views expressed are not only likely to be shallow, meaning viewers will be at risk of developing little understanding but they could create further hostility in the political world…
Though surely the more alternatives there are for political expression, the better, especially when mainstream media is arguably bias. While traditionally I feel that politics was less inclusive to young people, compared to what it is now. Remembering when I was too young to understand politics, I thought that dinner table discussions would be confined to people over the age of 40, while newspapers were reserved for those who had nothing better to do with their mornings than sit at their glass tables reading the telegraph! Only when I became exposed to politics properly in colour, knowing I wasn’t the only young person out there who gave a doss was when I began to take more interest myself. Though at the time it was still a little strange as access to information, especially of the sort directed at people of that age, was scarce…
So though these videos are far from ideal, at least they successfully provoke interest. And while really it is impossible for them to be 100% accurate and informative, it should enable young people to seek out further information elsewhere.
“This doesn’t even matter when we think that some of the videos are completely False!”
This widespread of misinformation is potentially threatening, yet occurs more often than we may think. This has included a video featuring “proof” that climate change is not real with images of snow, making claims that Hillary Clinton was involved with satanic sacrifice and an older man talking about former president Obama being a foreign exchange student and thus his whole president has been illegal. As much of this is going to reach younger people, there is the danger that this will provoke them into believing these “facts”…. As you can probably guess there have been efforts made to fact check videos on tiktok, yet because there are so many being made, it makes it extremely hard to get through all of them. The best videos lasting around ten seconds doesn’t help either. Moreover it is harder to fact check videos on TikTok compared to Instagram and Facebook, as on TikTok it is easier for a user or a user’s content to go viral, as who sees the videos is determined by an alga rhythm rather than how frequently the user engages with others. The issue with this relating to politics is that “young people who are only starting to form their opinions on politics are getting political messages alongside fun videos that are teaching them how to shuffle dance”. Meaning “their default response isn’t necessarily to question the validity of the message but to passively consume it as you would other entertainment content.” The obvious main issue with this is that young people are going to at risk of believing the lies of these videos, thus spreading what they see elsewhere.
Saying this however, Tiktok is certainly not the first platform where lies have been spread. In fact these videos generally lasting less than a minute may give Tiktok some advantage over other platforms when it comes to the concern of the spread of fake news. Look at Facebook, their average user is generally older than the average tiktok user, nevertheless some really bizarre content is being spread about. Long winded captions take longer than a minute to read, meaning those who choose to read this are obviously more likely to take notice of what is being read compared to a short but sharp, meme video which is likely to be swept under the carpet. Though this could be taken the other way to say that users on Facebook can easily decide to ignore the spread of false information, by simply not reading these kinds of posts or joining the wrong groups. While if an inappropriate video appears on someone’s TikTok feed, it is harder for them not to view it.
According to poynter, “young people tend to be slightly more skeptical of that they see online” compared to older people. This could be due to them being a generation who have grown up in the age of the internet, so they are more prone to the dangers online. Yet there is still the major risk, especially with TikTok, that it could lead the youngest of internet users to believe the false information.
So we can gather that while it is generally positive that the youngest generation are being introduced to politics, it is important to be aware of the risks online. For instance we do not want young people to end up believing in some very abstract conspiracy theory, while I don’t particularly want any of them to turn into Trump supporters. It is important to know the risks that TikTok itself poses, as there are going to be a lot of videos, therefore it is quite likely that a young person is going to come across something that’s inaccurate sooner or later… Therefore while it is important that young people can be made aware of the dangers of misinformation on TikTok, we cannot deny that it is exciting that young people are more interested in politics than ever before. Therefore it is important to allow them to watch TikTok in spite of the faults it may possess, while strongly encourage them to find sources which, well cover more, from elsewhere.
Sources: Quarrtz, poynter