A New Frontier: Conservatism on TikTok

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Wednesday, November 20, 2019


Most social media is typically viewed as biased politically, whether it be Twitter, Snapchat, or Facebook. Some social media even promote partisan news, such as YouTube. All in all, it’s seen as a pretty homogenous group.

Then, there’s TikTok.

TikTok, launched in 2017 by a Chinese tech company called ByteDance, initially followed the trend and was comprised of largely liberal opinions. However, conservative thought has seen an explosion on the platform, with tags like “#trump2020” and “#conservative” receiving between 20 and 121 million views. 

That’s a viewership close to the size of Japan’s entire population.

This viewership is combatted, as per usual, by toxicity and logical fallacy. One user, Kyler, (@kylerlovesjesus), experienced this toxicity after a live stream where he expressed his views on abortion. Specifically, he said (in response to someone), “You’re right, it’s not abortion. It’s murder.” During the live stream, he also stated that he did not support the LGBTQ+ community. 

Following these comments, he received several hundred comments, most of which called his views and opinions outright disgusting. However, Kyler kept cool and accepted that these people had different views, and that he could respect their views, while not blatantly agreeing with them.

The explosion of conservative thought on TikTok certainly isn’t popular among Gen Zers. A majority of 1,800 respondents to a Business Insider survey said that they “did not identify as either conservative or liberal.” 

This survey characterizes a larger discontent in Gen Zers and the generations after millennials as a whole, specifically in apathy to politics and low political efficacy. However, TikTok serves as an outlet for those few conservative voices to reach out and get others interested, whether that be through provocation or otherwise. And, frankly, it works. Returning to Kyler, his tangent on abortion and the subsequent response made it to not just Twitter, and not just Facebook, but YouTube as well. What originally started out as drama on a comparably small platform ended up on the absolute largest video-sharing platform in the world.

In a way, TikTok resembles Twitter, the most widely-used news source/opinion outlet in its emerging few years. Within the first two years, big-name politicians such as John Cornyn, John McCain, and Cory Booker all joined Twitter and, while slightly confused, helped to create the political atmosphere Twitter “enjoys” today. TikTok, without already-popular figures like John McCain, has fostered a number of political figures that some look up to, including Kyler.

TikTok is obviously not without faults. For one, TikTok heavily censors videos that don’t necessarily agree with the PRC’s foreign policy. According to a recent Washington Post report, while searching #hongkong on Twitter returns to you results about current protests occurring in the region and various political takes on the situation, doing the same on TikTok returns “playful selfies, food photos, and singalongs.” This altering of reality is deeply unsettling and challenges the idea of an innocent, fun-loving atmosphere in the app.

In the end, social media platforms like TikTok, while not conventional and certainly not without significant work to be done, will certainly play an increasingly large role in the politics of younger generations, both liberal and conservative, to come.

Jack Cowhick is a sophomore at The Colony High School, and a member of the TCHS debate team. Jack plans on majoring in political science at the University of Texas at Austin, and hopes to work as a political commentator in the future. When not writing for the Lone Conservative, he can likely be found practicing for a debate tournament or reading up on theology or politics.

The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.


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About Jack Cowhick

Jack Cowhick is a sophomore at The Colony High School, and a member of the TCHS debate team. Jack plans on majoring in political science at the University of Texas at Austin, and hopes to work as a political commentator in the future. When not writing for the Lone Conservative, he can likely be found practicing for a debate tournament or reading up on theology or politics.

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