TikTok is changing the way journalists share information

Insights, Media Watch

Short-form video-sharing and social networking app TikTok has evolved from a dance-centered social networking service created in 2016 to the often humorous and even informative video blog community it is today. Journalists around the world are utilizing the app to connect with a billion monthly active users in over 150 countries. According to the Wallaroo Agency, almost 130 million users in the United States spend time swiping through the TikTok app each month.

Data visualization by Storybench staff member, Jayden Khatib.

On Monday, Oct. 4, 2021 all Facebook owned social media platforms including WhatsApp and Instagram were shut down for nearly six hours. The outage was the perfect opportunity for rival apps to shine. As the Facebook apps were down, consumers sought out alternatives for social networking and messaging leading to a surge in rival platform usage. According to Sensor Tower, time spent in Facebook’s rival apps grew up to 23% during the outage, with Snapchat in the lead and Telegram, Signal, Twitter and TikTok following closely behind. 

Although TikTok saw just a 2% bump in growth due to the outage, the service is already one of the most downloaded apps globally with over two billion downloads to date. The Gen Z favorite has expanded to a wide range of users, giving media outlets the chance to share information in original ways with a variety of demographics around the world. 

Growth of time spent in competitor apps on Oct. 4, 2021 via Sensor Tower.

Franceso Zaffarano, a digital journalist and editor in chief at WILL Media, launched a project to map publishers and journalists on TikTok around the world. As of now, there are 198 news-related accounts registered on TikTok, with 64 of them being from the U.S.  

Storybench staff processed the database and categorized the U.S. accounts. Our findings can be accessed here.

If you know other journalists who are generating news content through TikTok, you can self-report account information to Zaffarano’s collaborative project. Also, follow our TikTok where we’ll be sharing interesting tools and interviews on digital storytelling.

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