Reflecting on 6 years of our research—which began on musical.ly and transitioned into TikTok—we argue that TikTok is a vital space to study social movements due to its centrality in youth lives and its ability to give voice to youth political expression in richly creative ways. We see the political expression happening on TikTok as a harbinger of the changing nature of this phenomenon, and a necessary impetus to broaden our understandings of activism and political expression today. At the same time, we must also consider the implications of TikTok becoming such a valuable space for youth politics and activism, in terms of the kinds of expression it affords or constrains, and the power it gives the platform. In closing, we encourage scholars to maintain a balanced and constructive approach in researching the platform, and embrace the messiness and complexity inherent in this endeavor—which mirrors the messiness and complexity of the platform itself.
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© The Author(s) 2023.
- political expression