TikTok’s Search Widget: An Alternative Online Search Engine?
As Gen Z increasingly gravitates towards TikTok for everyday online activities, trending phrases like “I found it on TikTok” and “Search it with TikTok” have gained popularity. With the younger generation valuing speed and efficiency, could social media platforms eventually replace traditional search engines like Google? Last month, TikTok introduced a new search widget for iPhone users, further fueling discussions about the future of search engines. This widget offers quick and seamless searches outside of the app, instantly directing users to TikTok’s search screen upon tapping.
The new search widget demonstrates how social media platforms are actively innovating to cater to the demands of Gen Z users, who seek new, fast and creative ways to consume content. With TikTok already serving as a source of entertainment, teaching, and news content, it is quickly becoming a comprehensive platform for all informational needs. However, despite its growth and evolution, the TikTok search widget’s potential replacement of Google is questionable due to certain limitations.
One significant drawback of the TikTok search widget is that it is confined to its social media platform. This means you can only search for video content that has been shared within the platform. If the answer isn’t on TikTok, you won’t be able to find it.
Another flaw with TikTok’s new search engine is misinformation. With anyone being able to share their take on a topic, it’s hard to decipher what are facts, speculation or pure fiction. TikTok is commonly used for commentary on trending news stories, but its content is primarily short-form videos.
How can users truly gauge the full story when they’re trusting the words of non-fact checked sources and only have access to a three-minute clip? Unless you’re looking for reviews on specific products or new spots in your city, it may be more reliable to stick to traditional search engines like Google.
It’s important to note that while Google can also present misformation, the search engine works actively to verify credible information, which cannot be said for TikTok. Google combats “fake news” on its platforms with strict rules prohibiting harmful content, with misinformation included in this. When violations are found, the content is restricted, blocked, or removed. The search engine has also signed the EU Code of Practice on Disinformation.
Similar to TikTok, Instagram has introduced a straightforward search function within its platform. Utilizing relevant keywords, you can find photos and videos, hashtags, accounts, audio, tags, and places within one simple search. The process is uncomplicated and user-friendly, yet faces the same two obstacles as TikTok: lack of verification on the accuracy of information and being limited to easily-digestible image and video content.
Overall, the way we search for information is constantly evolving. While traditional search engines will always have their place, it’s evident that social media platforms like TikTok are gaining influence in how we discover and consume information. As we look to the future, it will be interesting to witness how new technologies will aid us in navigating the vast sea of online information.