TikTok Search Engine: The Ripple Effect of Your Fingertips

Acin Aulia
3 min readJan 30, 2024

Lately, I’ve been trying to explore and learn about something that didn’t interest me at all before, but people often use it for daily purposes: TikTok search engine. Don’t get me wrong, I use TikTok, for fun. But I never use it as the main source for my daily or important purpose. I just opened it for entertainment or to refresh my mind, but lately, many controversial and misinformation videos have shown up on my FYP (for you page) algorithm, so kind of limited it for filtering.

This represents the darker side of TikTok, where many individuals find themselves entangled and engaging with potentially harmful content. However, the algorithm is what finds people’s interests themselves, not something that can be controlled by other people. The behavior will also change naturally when you often consume a short type of video. But, right now I’m not telling you about the content from this super app. What I learned over these past few months is the search engine.

Usually, I use TikTok to find short videos for food recipe hacks. The reason is that to know the recipes, I need short videos because I prefer to directly practice my cooking instead of watching cooking shows that last up to 7–10 minutes.

The thing is, I recently noticed how the ‘blue words’ work on TikTok. It’s a messy copy, but that’s how users discover keywords for the videos they’re seeking. I learned that TikTok employs an algorithm to identify keywords left in comments, automatically linking them to related content. Sometimes, the result is a messy copy. With just a click, you find relatable content instantly.

The success of the TikTok Search Engine lies in its ability to curate relevant and captivating videos, enabling users to discover content tailored to their preferences. It’s like exploring the world of exciting possibilities at your fingertips.

I acknowledge that TikTok is indeed remarkable as one of the latest and most massive search engines. There have been several surveys highlighting its rapid growth as a search engine, even competing with Google itself. TikTok reigns as the top search engine for over 50% of Gen Z, with a staggering 74% of them utilizing TikTok search. Surprisingly, 51% of survey participants opted for TikTok over Google for their search needs. The driving forces behind this preference include the engaging video format of results (69%), the appeal of more relatable answers (65%), and the allure of personalized responses (47%). The survey is based on Her Campus Media (via searchengineland).

One perk I love about TikTok is its powerful recommendation algorithm tailoring content based on relevant user interactions. The diverse content lets you explore video types you’ve never seen before. Plus, the rapid-fire virality of trends makes searching a breeze. Everything just moves at the speed of fun. That’s a powerful search engine for you, but, is it based on factual information or misinformation by random users?

While TikTok’s Search Engine excels in tailoring feeds to user interests, I’ve come to learn about its potential weaknesses — critical for long-term considerations. Here’s what I’ve discovered in the past few days:

  1. Unfiltered content and questionable information: Some users morph into pseudo-media outlets, recycling news from unclear sources, and potentially manipulating opinions.
  2. Trend dependency leading to a content bubble: Users may find themselves confined to a specific content echo chamber, limiting exposure to diverse perspectives.
  3. The psychological impact of constant algorithm-driven short content consumption: Users may experience a psychological toll, consuming short snippets of content and, akin to point two, living within their bubbles.

These aspects pose challenges that need careful consideration in the evolving landscape of TikTok’s Search Engine.

So, it’s a gentle reminder, both for you and myself, that our fingertips control what unfolds in the next few minutes. The simplicity of a search engine might just be the game-changer, influencing not just our behavior but even our psychology (even if you haven’t noticed it yet).

Have you had similar experiences with TikTok’s search engine, or do you have thoughts on its impact? Kindly share it with me!