Discover more from Understanding TikTok
TikTok's livestreaming business is exploding
especially to a bunch of new Swedish followers. You are reading Understanding TikTok. My name is Marcus.
Jeremy Fleming – director of GCHQ, Government Communications Headquarters in the UK recently said he would encourage young people to use TikTok (Guardian). Well, he is a spy chief and probably not as concerned as others when reading a new Forbes report by Emily Baker-White indicating that ByteDance’s Beijing-based Internal Audit and Risk Control team planned to use the TikTok app to track 🎯 the location of certain US citizens (Forbes). The Forbes story is the latest in a series of reported scandals for TikTok (Insider). Forbes' reporting continues to lack both rigor and journalistic integrity, tweets TikTok.
Today we talk about:
⏳ Live is Life
⚗️ Researching TikTok
🙀 Moral Panics
⏳ Live is Life
TikTok's livestreaming business is exploding (Gizmodo): In the last two years, TikTok’s online ads revenue has grown by 500%, while its livestreaming revenue has increased by 900%.
Streaming is one of the best ways for the platform’s users to make money, as TikTok has not shared ad revenue with creators. This is about to change. But only for a selected group of “most engaging” videos by creators with more than 100.000 followers (TubeFilter).
TikTok announced on October 17, 2022 that they will be making several changes to livestreaming on the platform. This includes Multi-Guest Live Videos, Minimum Age Increase and Comment Keyword Filter Suggestions (MUO).
To clear things up. An Adults-Only Content Option does not mean the next Only Fans. “We do not allow nudity, pornography, or sexually explicit content,” says the company’s community guidelines. And nothing in the new announcement suggests that those guidelines will be different for adults-only stream (Gizmodo).
Raising its minimum age for livestreaming comes after a BBC News investigation found hundreds of accounts going live from Syrian refugee camps, with children begging for donations (originally reported by Chris Stokel-Walker). Quote: Some were receiving up to $1,000 (£900) an hour - but when they withdrew the cash, TikTok had taken up to 70%.
Concerning age-restrictions and community guidelines – it is yet to be seen how TikTok will enforce these.
The second edition of The SAGE Handbook of Social Media Research Methods is out. While the first edition from 2017 included articles on e.g. Foursquare the new Handbook published in September 2022 includes a chapter on Researching TikTok: Themes, Methods, and Future Directions by Alex Miltsov. Here is a preprint on ReserearchGate.
The chapter is a great starting point if you want to know the main themes in current TikTok scholarship or learn about the most effective research methods currently used by TikTok researchers. These include case studies – like Melanie Kennedy (2020) examining the channel of Charli D’Amelio or Bandy and Diakopoulos (2020) finding out that “1% of videos…accounted for 76% of all plays” while investigating #TulsaFlop.
Besides case studies, content analysis is by far the most utilized research methodology, Miltsov writes and – among others - recommends Jorge Vázquez-Herren and colleagues (2021) study how mass media channels use the platform. A third field of research is the small but growing numbers of mixed-media studies like Daniel Klug and colleagues (2021) or Medina Serrano and colleagues (2020).
“TikTok studies have not yet established conceptual or methodological traditions”, Miltsov concludes and sketches a few potential directions for the future of TikTok studies. Fascinating to see how researchers closely follow and circle around its fast moving research object, trying to grasp and understand the volatile thing that
keeps on constantly changing.
🙀 Moral Panics
Teens are not stealing their family’s fine dinnerware, tossing it in a blender, and snorting the resulting dust for the “porcelain challenge”. I repeat. They are not. Sebastian Durfee, a 23-year-old actor invented this hoax and posted a call to action to get “boomers to freak out about a fake TikTok challenge” (Technology Review).
Well. It worked. Here is Age of Panic by Senser. The 1994 soundtrack that perfectly fits the current moral panic era of TikTok. Over the last few years, a wave of fake and flimsy trends have turned into fodder for moral panics: "Slap a Teacher," the Momo hoax, the "Skeleton Brunch" meme and more have become objects of concern for authorities and parents, Insider reports.
There are dangerous things out there. And they are on TikTok too. Eating-Disorder. Self-harm. Extremism and hate. But these should not be confused with stupid insider-jokes that most of the time existed pre-TikTok or even pre-internet and many times did not result into any reports “of deaths, injuries, or hospitalizations resulting from the so-called trend(s)” (Insider). Most of these so called trends were amplified or gained traction due to concerned media coverage. And let’s not forget Facebook paying a GOP firm to malign TikTok (Washington Post). And: Moral panics surrounding new technology have existed
for generations forever.
TikTok chases Amazon with plans for U.S. fulfillment centers (Axios)
The White House is – yet again – turning to TikTok stars (NPR, NPR)
Sniffing out Jeremy Fragrance (Dirt)
A simple module to collect video, text, and metadata from Tiktok (Pyktok)
Daft Punk join TikTok (France 24)
TikTok Nostalgia (Passionfruit)