September 22, 2023

What educators need to know about Wikipedia Snippets on TikTok

Students are turning to TikTok as their main search engine. And now, TikTok is quietly integrating Wikipedia snippets into its search results, offering users direct in-app access to even more information. 

Whether students are searching for the latest trending news, learning new terminology, or diving deeper into facts they’re seeing online, Wikipedia snippets act as a bridge between entertaining video content and information. But, with 20% of search results on TikTok containing false or misleading information, how can we find the right balance between misinformation and entertainment?

Dive in and find out how educators can support students in this new era of information gathering. 

What You Need to Know about Wikipedia Snippets

At some point, every TikTok user will come across information on the platform they don’t quite understand. Oftentimes, when students encounter this problem, they will leave TikTok and look up the information on the web through a search engine, like Google. However, in an attempt to further prevent users from leaving the app, TikTok is introducing Wikipedia Snippets. 

In short, these snippets provide users with concise Wikipedia-based information about specific topics within the TikTok app’s search results, making it easier for users to access relevant information without leaving the platform.

While this is a convenient way for students to learn new things, Wikipedia has not historically been the most reliable source to gather information. Many teachers do not even allow students to use Wikipedia as a research source when completing assignments. If the school system does not encourage Wikipedia usage, should students trust Wiki Snippets? The answer: Yes, as long as they can verify it on another reliable source. 

Additionally, in a 2020 research study, The National Library of Medicine determined that the majority of students have a difficult time identifying misinformation online. If students are not able to identify “fake news” online, they’ll be more likely to share it. Taking false information at face value and acting on it can lead students to negatively impact themselves or others. 

To help stop the spread of misinformation, educators play a crucial role in guiding students through the information they encounter on social media. 

How Educators Can Help Students Navigate This Topic

It’s no secret that misinformation spreads rapidly. In fact, misinformation is 70% more likely to be retweeted than factual news. Educators can address this challenge head-on by teaching students how to discern fact from fiction and encouraging them to be critical thinkers.

Empower your students to navigate TikTok’s evolving role as an information source and become responsible, informed citizens by:

  • Fostering Media Literacy: Include media literacy in your school’s curriculum through platforms like #WinAtSocial. Equip students to assess sources, identify bias, and fact-check content on platforms like TikTok.
  • Promoting Critical Thinking: Encourage students to question source credibility, scrutinize evidence, and evaluate information before accepting it as factual. Websites like Ad Fontes’ Interactive Media Bias Chart are a great place for students when determining whether a news source is credible and encourages them to carefully evaluate the sites they gather information from. 
  • Educating Students on Social Media Responsibility: Teach students about their digital footprint and the impact it has on themselves and others. Emphasize that sharing false information can have real consequences.
  • Teaching Fact-Checking: Introduce fact-checking tools. Instruct students on verifying social media information for accuracy.
  • Staying Updated: As educators, stay informed about the latest trends and developments on social media platforms like TikTok. This will help you relate to your students and guide them effectively.

TSI’s Take

TikTok’s transition from an entertainment platform to a source of information represents the dynamic nature of social media. Educators can recognize this shift and equip students with the skills needed to navigate this evolving landscape. By fostering media literacy, critical thinking, and responsible online behavior, educators can empower students to use platforms like TikTok as tools for learning and growth while safeguarding themselves against misinformation. In a world where information is at our fingertips, these skills are invaluable for students to succeed and thrive.

Empowering students to analyze and verify the information they find online is part of our mission at The Social Institute. Through lessons in our collaborative learning platform, like Evaluating news sources and information in our social media feeds, educators can empower their students to spot misinformation and find credible influencers.

For more lessons that’ll strengthen your students’ social skills and empower them to make high-character decisions online and offline, request a demo for our digital learning platform, #WinAtSocial.  

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