Is TikTok the new Google?

Is TikTok the new Google?
FILE PHOTO: TikTok app logo is seen in this illustration taken, August 22, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

You’ve probably had that annoying experience where you went to Google to find a local restaurant for dinner, and it just wasn’t helpful. Maybe it doesn’t do a good job differentiating between similar names (how am I supposed to remember if the place my friend recommended was called “Yummy Noodle” or “Tasty Noodle”?), or maybe it just wasn’t taking your interests into account (shouldn’t Google know by now that the local pizza place isn’t great for the lactose intolerant?).

Well, it turns out that young people have, for some things, abandoned Google in favor of the new boss in town – TikTok.

Yep, for everything from restaurant recommendations and attraction reviews to home-cooked recipes and workout ideas, young people are using TikTok and its curated algorithm to make it work for them by giving them the best possible suggestions.

By comparison, the Google algorithm has a hard time figuring out the quality of that kind of content going through its search engine, meaning that you end up with those notoriously long preambles to what should be a simple recipe on a blog post. (Sharon, I don’t need to know about your trip to Bordeaux to learn how to make French onion soup.)

And that’s all great when TikTok is telling you how to grill chicken or do burpees, but what about when it comes to more serious topics, like getting the best quality Hong Kong-based geopolitical and business news and analysis? Well, it turns out that Google (or TMS) is your better friend there.

See, a recent study showed that when someone looks up a news story on TikTok, they’re likely to get hit with either misinformation or disinformation – it makes up about 20% of the top searches, according to the study.

But Google, on the other hand, does a better job of weighting things like factuality in its search results, so it pushes those to the top, so fewer of the top results are likely to have mis- or disinformation.

So, if you’re looking for a nice bowl of pho in your area, then TikTok can be your best friend. On the other hand, if you’re looking for the best news on, say, China’s talks with the GCC, you should probably Google it. Or better yet, just stick to TMS, where we hand-filter the noise for you.