Rutgers study: extreme difference in political hashtags on TikTok vs Instagram

To investigate, NCRI analyzed hashtag data related to six topics directly sensitive to the Chinese Government: 1) Uyghurs; 2) Tiananmen Square; 3) Tibet; 4) Hong Kong; 5) Taiwan; 6) South China Sea. Our presentation of data starts with Uyghurs and Tiananmen Square because those were two topics specifically called out at the March 2023 Congressional hearings, and TikTok’s CEO explicitly denied that in either case were posts on those topics suppressed or in any way demoted on the platform. We then expanded our research into topics relevant to the Chinese Government’s geopolitical interests: 1) Ukraine-Russia War; 2) Kashmir Independence; 3) Israel-Hamas War24 . The conclusions of our research are clear: Whether content is promoted or muted onTikTok appears to depend on whether it is aligned or opposed to the interests of the Chinese Government. As the summary data graph below illustrates, the percentages of TikTok posts out of Instagram posts are consistently range-bound for general political and pop-culture topics, but completely out-of-bounds for topics sensitive to the Chinese Government.