Protesting the Protest Paradigm: TikTok as a Space for Media Criticism

Ioana Literat*, Lillian Boxman-Shabtai, Neta Kligler-Vilenchik

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Though news representations of protest have been studied extensively, little is known about how media audiences critique such representations. Focusing on TikTok as a space for media criticism, this article examines how users employ the app to respond to representations of protest in mainstream news media. Content collected in the spring of 2021 illuminated two very distinct foci of discussion about news representations of protest: the Black Lives Matter movement and the Capitol riot. Our qualitative content analysis of TikTok videos and their related comments demonstrates how users employed TikTok’s creative affordances to dissect specific news representations, critique the media apparatus, and expand news narratives. These findings shed light on the complex role of TikTok as a platform for media criticism—one that can be used for both democratic and non-democratic ends.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)362-383
Number of pages22
JournalInternational Journal of Press/Politics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2022.


  • Black Lives Matter
  • Capitol riot
  • TikTok
  • media criticism
  • protest paradigm
  • social media


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