TikTok expands STEM education focus in EU amid regulatory scrutiny

The company will collaborate with Common Sense Networks and Poynter to ensure appropriate and reliable content.

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TikTok is intensifying its focus on educational content amid mounting scrutiny in the US and the UK. The platform is rolling out its STEM feed across Europe, starting with the UK and Ireland, following its successful launch in the US last year. This dedicated feed, featuring science, technology, engineering, and mathematics content, will now be integrated alongside the main feeds for users under 18 and can be enabled by older users through the app’s settings. Since its US debut, one-third of teens regularly engage with the STEM feed, with a notable surge in STEM-related content production.

The expansion comes with enhanced measures to ensure content quality and reliability. Namely, TikTok is partnering with Common Sense Networks and Poynter to vet the content appearing on the STEM feed. Common Sense Networks will assess appropriateness, while Poynter will evaluate information reliability. Content failing these checks will not qualify for the STEM feed, aiming to provide users with credible educational materials.

This move arrives amidst growing criticism over TikTok’s handling of harmful content and its impact on young users. Concerns have been raised about addictive design tactics and inadequate protection of minors from inappropriate content. In response, the EU is investigating TikTok’s compliance with online safety regulations.

By emphasising its educational initiatives, including the STEM feed, TikTok aims to position itself as a constructive platform for youth development, countering regulatory scrutiny and public concerns.

Why does it matter?

TikTok’s push for educational content aligns with its recent efforts to present a positive global image to lawmakers and stakeholders. The company has showcased the STEM feed in congressional hearings to refute accusations of harm to young users. Through initiatives like this, TikTok seeks to demonstrate its commitment to promoting learning and responsible content consumption while navigating regulatory challenges in multiple jurisdictions.