TikTok Wants You to Use It as a Search Engine

40 percent of young people use TikTok as a search engine, and the social media company encourages that use in a recent ad.

TikTok is for more than just endless scrolling and comment thread battles, as the increasingly popular social media is now taking aim at the search engine game in a recent ad.

The popularity of TikTok, particularly among younger users, has skyrocketed in its short life, going from relatively unknown lip-syncing app in 2016 to the most popular website in the world for a time in 2022.

This increased popularity has even driven users to use TikTok as a search engine instead of standard options like Google, and TikTok has taken notice.

TikTok Ad Shows Off Search Capabilities

In a new ad, TikTok not only acknowledges that its users are searching on the app, but actively encourages it, showing a duo of users using it for everything from how to clean a carpet to what kinds of books to read.

The trend of using social media as a search has become more than just a passing fad. Huge percentages of younger and older audiences alike are turning to TikTok, Instagram, and other platforms when they need information.

“In our studies, something like almost 40 percent of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.” – Prabhakar Raghavan, a Google senior vice president

TikTok has become such a boon for search engine use that even Google is now displaying TikTok videos in search results, hoping to make sure the dedicated search engine doesn't go the way of Ask Jeeves. Still, TikTok has a few obstacles if it wants to become the go-to search engine.

TikTok's Terrible Troubles

TikTok definitely isn't without a bit of controversy when it comes to use as a search engine. For one, it's data harvesting practices are known to be a bit aggressive, even compared to the likes of other social media platforms around the world. That, combined with its parent company ByteDance being based in China, is enough to rub some people the wrong way.

In fact, despite Biden overturning the Trump ban on TikTok, more and more small bans have been popping up around the government. Most recently, Texas banned use of TikTok on government devices and it's not the only state to do so thus far.

All that to say, TikTok will have a long road before it's primarily used as a search engine, if only because it's still so darn fun to endlessly scroll rather than find information.

Written by:

Conor is the Lead Writer for Tech.co. For the last six years, he’s covered everything from tech news and product reviews to digital marketing trends and business tech innovations. He's written guest posts for the likes of Forbes, Chase, WeWork, and many others, covering tech trends, business resources, and everything in between. He's also participated in events for SXSW, Tech in Motion, and General Assembly, to name a few. He also cannot pronounce the word "colloquially" correctly. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.

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