TikTok Expands Dedicated STEM Feed to Europe

TikTok Expands Dedicated STEM Feed to Europe

TikTok, the popular social media app, is making efforts to prioritize educational content on its platform. In an announcement made on Tuesday, the company revealed its plans to expand its dedicated STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) feed to Europe. This move comes as TikTok faces mounting pressure in the U.S. and the U.K.

The STEM feed was first introduced in the U.S. last year and will now be available in the U.K. and Ireland. It will automatically appear alongside the “For You” and “Following” feeds for users under the age of 18. Users above the age of 18 can enable the STEM feed through the app’s “content preferences” settings. The feed consists of English-speaking content with auto-translate subtitles.

According to TikTok, since its launch in the U.S., 33% of users have enabled the STEM feed, with a third of teens accessing it every week. The app has experienced a 24% growth in STEM-related content since the introduction of the feed. Notably, nearly 15 million STEM-related videos have been published on TikTok globally in the past three years.

To ensure the quality and appropriateness of content featured in the STEM feed, TikTok is expanding its partnerships with Common Sense Networks and Poynter. Common Sense Networks will review the content to determine its suitability for the STEM feed, while Poynter will assess the reliability of the information presented. Content that fails to meet both these criteria will not be eligible for inclusion in the STEM feed.

This move by TikTok comes at a time when the company has faced criticism for exposing young users to harmful content. Rights groups have accused the app of utilizing addictive design practices to keep users engaged for extended periods. In response, the European Union launched an investigation earlier this year to determine if TikTok has violated the Digital Services Act, which aims to protect users online. The commission is specifically examining whether the app adequately prevents minors from accessing inappropriate content and whether its design choices encourage addictive behavior.

With the expansion of the STEM feed, TikTok aims to position itself as an educational hub for its millions of young users, countering criticisms from lawmakers worldwide. The company has already used the STEM feed to refute claims that it is detrimental to young users. TikTok CEO Shou Chew emphasized the educational value of the feed while testifying in two separate U.S. congressional hearings in March 2023 and January 2024.

TikTok’s dedication to fostering educational content through its STEM feed demonstrates its commitment to providing a safe and enriching experience for its young user base. By partnering with trusted organizations to assess content quality, the company hopes to address concerns about inappropriate or unreliable information. With this expansion, TikTok aims to showcase its potential as an educational platform and dispel negative perceptions surrounding its impact on young users.