“Europe Welcomes Dedicated STEM Feed on TikTok”

The company announced on Tuesday that it’s expanding its dedicated STEM feed across Europe, starting in the U.K. and Ireland, after first launching it in the U.S. last year. The STEM feed will begin to 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 via the app’s “content preferences” settings. TikTok says that since launching the feed in the U.S. last year, 33% of users have the STEM feed enabled and a third of teens go to the STEM feed every week. Content that doesn’t pass both of these checkpoints will not be eligible for the STEM feed.

As the popular short-form video app TikTok faces mounting pressure in the U.S. and U.K., the company is demonstrating its dedication to providing educational content on its platform. On Tuesday, TikTok announced its plans to expand its specialized STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) feed across Europe, starting with the U.K. and Ireland. The feed was initially launched in the U.S. last year.

The STEM feed will now automatically appear alongside the “For You” and “Following” feeds for users under the age of 18. For users over 18, the feed can be activated in the app’s “content preferences” settings. This curated feed features English-language content with auto-translated subtitles.

TikTok reports that since its launch in the U.S., 33% of users have enabled the STEM feed and a third of teenagers visit the feed every week. The app has also seen a 24% increase in STEM-related content in the U.S. in that time. Since its inception, almost 15 million STEM-related videos have been published on the app globally.

As part of its efforts to ensure the quality and reliability of content on the STEM feed, TikTok is expanding partnerships with Common Sense Networks and Poynter. Common Sense Networks will review all content to ensure its suitability for the STEM feed, while Poynter will assess the accuracy and credibility of the information presented. Content that does not meet both of these standards will not be eligible for the STEM feed.

The launch of the STEM feed comes amid criticism directed at TikTok for exposing children and teens to harmful content. Rights groups have accused the app of using addictive design tactics to keep users engaged for extended periods of time.

In February, the European Union announced an investigation into whether TikTok has violated the Digital Services Act, which sets guidelines for protecting users online. The commission is examining whether the app is taking sufficient measures to prevent minors from accessing inappropriate content and evaluating its design choices in relation to promoting addictive behavior.

TikTok’s announcement today serves as a step towards positioning itself as a hub for education among the millions of young users on its platform. This move aims to counter criticisms from lawmakers around the world. The company has already highlighted its STEM feed as a response to allegations that it is harmful for younger users. In fact, TikTok CEO Shou Chew spoke on behalf of the feed during two separate congressional hearings in the U.S., one in March 2023 and another in January 2024.

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Kira Kim

Kira Kim is a science journalist with a background in biology and a passion for environmental issues. She is known for her clear and concise writing, as well as her ability to bring complex scientific concepts to life for a general audience.

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