TikTok has a large science community, and the social network wants everyone to know it on Pi Day. The company is launching a dedicated STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) feed that shows only these more educational videos. You may learn to code or discuss experiments without having to wade through TikTok’s usual entertainment-focused content.
Not surprisingly, TikTok is taking steps to block misinformation in this new section. Curator Common Sense Networks will study content to make sure it’s relevant to the STEM feed, while the fact-checkers at Poynter will gauge the accuracy. Any videos that don’t pass both inspections won’t reach the new feed.
Users in the US will start seeing the STEM feed in the “coming weeks,” TikTok says. The social media giant has already been experimenting with a “Topic Feed” in some regions to court fans of gaming, sports and other common subjects. The science-oriented feed is considered an expansion of this initiative.
The launch isn’t surprising. Governments and schools are concerned TikTok may harm children and teens, to the point where schools are suing the company over alleged mental health problems. A STEM feed creates a positive space for “co-learning, inspiration and enrichment,” as TikTok claims. It’s also potentially lucrative, as TikTok claims that STEM-linked hashtags have received more than 110 billion views so far.
Whether or not this helps with TikTok’s survival in the US is another matter. Some politicians want to ban TikTok outright over fears it’s a national security threat. Officials are concerned China may collect data about key Americans or spread propaganda. CEO Shou Zi Chew is set to testify before a House committee next week on privacy, security and child safety issues. A STEM feed won’t necessarily address those worries.