How TikTok is becoming our go-to app for political activism

By Bianca Borissova

Updated May 15, 2020 at 02:09 PM

Reading time: 3 minutes

It’s funny how the apparent generational rift can divides us—new gens are often criticised by some of our predecessors, be that  our social media habits and apparent phone addiction or the presumption that we don’t care for the world around us. Yet, when we do share our opinions on urgent issues such as climate change or poor political policy, we are labelled as ‘snowflakes’. 

Being the ‘social media generation’, it isn’t surprising that we end up resorting to social media activism, with many now turning to TikTok to resonate with a wider and younger audience. TikTok is rapidly increasing in popularity, especially amongst gen Z audiences, who make up over 50 per cent of the platform’s user base. So how did TikTok become the go-to-app for politically driven content?

This week, the UK is about to have one of its most important General Elections in recent history, which will be a turning point in determining the future of the country’s politics; naturally, our social media feeds are covered with news about this. Ela, perhaps better known by her Instagram handle @sunkidi, has recently published a TikTok video on her Instagram feed, which has now gone viral, questioning why people vote conservative. “I made it on a whim really. I’m in my pyjamas in the video aha. I make really stupid TikToks when I’m bored and post them on my private Instagram, it was never meant to go on my public insta but my friends thought it was funny so I posted it there,” Ela tells Screen Shot.

The video has now received over 93 thousand views, and has been shared by hundreds, with Ela receiving overall positive responses, as not only did she manage to start a conversation about something incredibly important and find a way to engage with people online, she did so through humour. “I think every generation uses different means to express ourselves. Memes can cover all sections of life so there’s something for everyone to have a giggle at,” says Ela. It appears that as a generation we tend to turn to memes, humor and now TikToks to voice our concerns, and it is incredibly effective.

“I think social media is so important for this election because it’s giving people access to information that isn’t broadcasted by mainstream publications and it’s giving people who are suffering under a Tory government a voice.” There is also a real push to get young people to vote in this election, firstly, because the election determines the long-term future of the youngest members of the country, and, secondly,  since there has previously been a lack of young people in the electoral register. A large majority of gen Zs were unable to vote in the Brexit referendum, for instance, because they were underage at the time. Since this current election was announced, over 47,000 new applications have reached the voting age by September alone.  Ela is not the only one who used TikTok as a means to create awareness for this election; the Brexit Party is an avid TikTok user, while young supporters of other parties also turn to TikTok to create politically driven content in regards to the election and the current state of British politics.

It is uncertain what exactly influenced new voters to register, but activism and social media influence have played an active role in that. So do we owe it to ourselves and others to be political on social media? “I think we do owe it to ourselves to be political!” Ela tells Screen Shot. “I think social media activism is so important. I remember In 2014 finding out about the Ferguson riots before the mainstream media had reported it. I also think the media can be so quiet on important issues that people need to know such as the Hong Kong riots and killings of Muslims in China for example. I wouldn’t have known about that if it wasn’t for social media.”

It is true that there are many cases in which social media has managed to report on news before mainstream news outlets have; the Sudan crisis being a great example of such, or the most recent Chinese concentration camps for Muslims, and social media activism has been pivotal in raising awareness to these issues. Teenager Feroza Aziz recently went viral after posting a TikTok disguised as an eyelash tutorial in which she speaks about what is happening, urging people to take action—with the Chinese app temporarily disabling her for doing so. That hasn’t stopped Feroza, however, as she tells the BBC that she is not “scared of TikTok”. 

The future belongs to the new gen, and we are claiming it by fighting for a better, kinder future, TikTok by TikTok, if that’s what it takes.

Keep On Reading

By Charlie Sawyer

Conservatives are spreading dangerous misinformation about birth control on TikTok

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Succession star Brian Cox says the Bible is one of the worst books ever

By Abby Amoakuh

Hundreds of bodies found in unmarked graves behind a state jail in Jacksonville

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Pigeon accused of being a Chinese spy released after being detained for eight months

By Abby Amoakuh

What is livestream shopping and why do people (wrongly) think the trend is over before it even started?

By Abby Amoakuh

Muslim Germans feel censored and alienated as the country continues to ignore its Islamophobia problem

By Charlie Sawyer

2023 was Jeremy Allen White’s year. Why? Because being committed to the job is sexy

By Charlie Sawyer

Video of teenage girls using makeup to put on blackface in Sephora goes viral

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Samaria Ayanle’s tragic death prompts theories about a serial killer targeting Black women in London

By Jack Ramage

Is your boss tripping on acid? New research suggests so

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Lego urges California police department to stop using its toy heads for mugshot images

By Abby Amoakuh

Kanye West announces launch of Yeezy Porn, an adult entertainment business

By Abby Amoakuh

Jeffrey Epstein flight logs: Prince Andrew controversy resurfaces as nearly 200 names to be released

By Fatou Ferraro Mboup

Percy Hynes White speaks out after Netflix confirmed that he won’t return for Wednesday season 2

By Charlie Sawyer

Justice for Billie Piper: Why she’s worth so much more than her ex-husband Laurence Fox

By Charlie Sawyer

Fans in mourning after speculating that Ryan Gosling might have gotten a bad Botox job

By Charlie Sawyer

Women in Gaza are using parts of tents as period products

By Abby Amoakuh

Trump kept a book of Adolf Hitler’s speeches, Ivana Trump reveals

By Alma Fabiani

Congratulations Wonka, you’ve officially snapped me out of my Timothée Chalamet obsession

By Charlie Sawyer

Piers Morgan responds to Shakira’s claim that the Barbie movie is emasculating