Cybernews podcast #29: TikTok as a news source

14% of US adults say they get news from TikTok. Given TikTok’s addictiveness and toxicity, where does it lead, we wondered.

This week’s podcast topic was inspired by Joe Berkowitz, a writer with Fast Company. He took an extreme dive into the TikTok world and for a whole week consumed news only from TikTok.

While he said he didn’t really miss the bigger picture and stayed informed, the news stream was simultaneously flooded with both news and people “explaining” the news, leaving him aspiring for straightforward and hard-hitting facts.

If we were to consume our news from social media alone, would it weaken our democracies, luring more people into conspiracy theories and simply making them useful idiots to pursue a certain political agenda? Does it even matter?

In 2022, The Atlantic published a column by Jonathan Haidt on how social media might be undermining democracy. Social media is “yet another moral panic about a new technology,” he said. And, probably even more to the point, Haidt concluded that “we’ll worry about it less after a few decades of conflicting studies.”

In this podcast episode, Cybernews journalists discuss:

  • Why some users choose TikTok over other social media
  • How does social media shape journalistic content? To what extent news and facts are dumbed down and flattened to fit the algorithm?
  • Are people better off following the news?
  • Is social media any different from technologies that people feared some decades ago? Television, for example

“I believe that you wouldn't expect to find Michelin-level dishes in a dumpster and you probably wouldn't expect to find serious journalism on TikTok,” Ernestas Naprys, a senior journalist at Cybernews, believes.

More from Cybernews:

UnitedHealth cyberattack payment freeze sparks provider panic

American crypto fraud losses exceed $1.5 billion

‘Amazon’s Choice’ doorbells are a security nightmare 

European champion no more: Mistral AI's painful bluff also eye-opener

Airbnb and Tripadvisor scammers targeting travelers 

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