Life Hacks

I Spent a Week Using Only TikTok for Search

I Spent a Week Using Only TikTok for Search
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It is said that Google In “code red” mode, it deploys resources and calls on its founders to address perceived threats to the too dominant search engine. Today’s threat is ChatGPT – a large AI-powered language model that also helps us write term papers and poetry, draft regulations, and make medical diagnoses. But there is another car coming from behind in the search race. This is TikTok.

TikTok for search? you might ask. How can a disruptive video app filled with teen dancing, cat memes, food hacks, and sexy games help you find a financial advisor, train timetable, or even search results for yourself? It depends on what your interpretation of “search” is, but if you’re looking for results that are less specific and more interesting—a search akin to social discovery—TikTok does a solid job. In 2021, content delivery network Cloudflare reported that had overtaken Google as the most visited web domain in the world. And last year, a senior vice president of search at Google noted that 40 percent of young internet users regularly turn to TikTok or Instagram to search. (TikTok did not respond to inquiries about search trends.)

MORE EVIDENCE: When I shared on a WIRED Slack channel that I was going to try TikTok search for a week, two of my younger classmates who are generations different than me said, fwiw, that they were also searching for nearly everything on TikTok. So on a recent Tuesday, I opened TikTok and began my experiment, typing quickly on a touchscreen of mild desperation.

First day

I am not what you would call very active on TikTok. I follow a few dozen people, and I posted one video (cat). At times, I got sucked into the maelstrom of the app’s For You page, which features videos that TikTok’s algorithm has determined I might like. Part of the reason I don’t use the app much is due to security and privacy concerns. TikTok, which is owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, recently admitted that some of its workers had accessed the location data of American journalists to try to identify (i.e., spy on) their sources. Even with this knowledge, I still have a TikTok account, because I test a lot of apps.

My colleagues’ use of TikTok search intrigues me. It felt like there was a slight split before due to age, but now it’s a wide yawn, and they’re on the oxygen intake side and I’m on the tired side. Was my story really old? The facts that I was post-college when Google went public, or that I was in the room when Steve Ballmer shouted “Bing it!” And revealing about Microsoft’s new search engine, don’t give me any credibility at all here.

The first thing I look for is how to pair the AirTag, which is a gift given to me for my habit of losing my keys. TikTok delivers here. I’m able to see the top video in the results, 31 seconds long, without having to scroll through dozens of other videos in the results. And because it’s a live thumbnail, I don’t even have to click on the video to hear it sound. It’s fast and easy. This will be fun

the second day

I wake up and remember I have a job that involves a lot of exhaustive online searches. I open TikTok and look for specific information about Apple’s business, such as how many employees work in Apple’s retail stores. I can’t find the answer there, but I did find some helpful hacks (how to write off a $1,100 iPhone on your taxes so you only pay half) and parodies of Apple Store interactions (“employee” apologizes for an hour wait time, six people are currently being helped There are only 90 employees.

The editor says, quite literally, “Let me Google this for you.” It turns out that TikTok is not a gateway to 10-K reporting on It’s a gateway to more TikTok.

Later that day, I opened TikTok again, recommending an account called “oldloserinbrooklyn,” especially this person’s predictions for 2023, the main one being “close more print magazines.” I will not do this.

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