Social media giant Tiktok has announced its entrance to the education market with the launch of a new learning platform in Europe, as the company seeks to bolster its presence outside the Chinese market.
The Bytedance-owned firm today unveiled its #LearnOnTiktok platform, which will see the social media company partner with universities, experts and charities across Europe to deliver educational content to youngsters.
The short-form video app will plug an initial €13m (£11.7m) into the project, as part of its first steps into the online education marketplace.
In England, Tiktok’s new platform will feature educational content from the University of Cambridge and English Heritage, as well as “life hacks” from a slew of actors, singers and celebrities.
Dr Rangan Chatterjee will share health and wellness videos with youngsters, while Countdown star Rachel Riley will share maths skills, and actor Sean Sagar will help drama students get ready for auditions.
The Chinese app, which has now been downloaded more than 2bn times on iOS and Android since its global launch in 2017, allows users to make videos up to 15 seconds long. Reports yesterday suggested its Chinese owner Bytedance is now worth $95bn to $140bn (£111.8bn).
Rich Waterworth, Tiktok’s EU general manager, said: “Since launching in the UK in 2018, Tiktok has quickly become a place people turn to when they want snack-sized entertainment. Now we want to build on this strong foundation, bringing together entertainment and learning, offering our community a truly rich and diverse ecosystem of content.”
It comes as social media usage among younger generations has soared during the pandemic, as youngsters across the globe turn to their phones to stay connected during lockdown.
But with the closure of schools likely to remain on the cards for some time, popular brands are now seeking to convert their apps into educational tools.
Social media apps are now increasingly used as news sources, the 2020 Reuters Digital News Report released this week found, with 43 per cent of 16-24 year olds accessing social media as a source of Covid-19 related information during the pandemic.
Of these, six per cent of youngsters in the UK turned to Tiktok as a source of coronavirus-related news, the report showed.
But concerns have been raised that social media is an unreliable news source, and may be helping to spread false and misleading information —especially to a younger audience.
“People of all ages are increasingly sharing and discovering news content on social media,” said Jamie MacEwan, research analyst at Enders Analysis.
“Young people are particularly exposed as they are much less likely to get their news from traditional media like the TV news bulletins, which are subject to strict guidelines around impartiality, accuracy, and fairness.
“The flip side is that without social media, some people might never read any news content. What is needed is a levelling up of standards. The online platforms must ensure they have adequate safeguards against the spread of fake news and extreme content to protect all users.”