TikTok has a large scientific 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 most educational videos. You can learn to code or discuss experiments without having to browse the usual entertainment-focused content on TikTok.
Not surprisingly, TikTok is taking steps to block misinformation in this new section. Common Sense Networks curator will study the content to make sure it’s relevant to the STEM feed, while Poynter fact-checkers will measure accuracy. Any video that doesn’t pass both inspections won’t make it to 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 woo fans of gaming, sports, and other common topics. The science-oriented feed is seen as an expansion of this initiative.
The release is not surprising. Governments and schools are concerned that TikTok could harm children and teens, to the point that schools are suing the company over alleged mental health issues. 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-related hashtags have received more than 110 billion views so far.
Whether or not this helps TikTok’s survival in the US is another question. Some politicians want to ban TikTok entirely out of fear that it is a threat to national security. Officials worry that China could collect data on key Americans or spread propaganda. CEO Shou Zi Chew will testify before a House committee next week on issues of privacy, security and child safety. A STEM feed will not necessarily address those concerns.