#96: Digital Fentanyl
addicting our kids.
You are reading Understanding TikTok. My name is Marcus.
Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher has called TikTok "digital fentanyl" that is "addicting our kids" (Business Insider). Here is Judge Benjamin Schwartz warning the general public that the Beatles are a threat to children (in 1964). And here is a religious tract from 1864 warning that “the minds of novel readers are intoxicated”.
Today we talk about:
📺 TikTok Journalism: More is more
🇲🇾 Elections in Malaysia
👻 Mestre Ensinador
📺 Case Study: SWR
We have discussed TikTok journalism a fair amount of times in this newsletter. We know that TikTok is not the enemy of journalism (Guardian). That more Americans are getting news on TikTok (Pew Research). And i shared this worldwide database with more than 1400 news providers and journalists again and again. Today let me introduce an interesting case study from Germany following Sophia Smith Galer’s dictum: who is actually doing a good job here?
Südwestrundfunk (SWR, Southwest Broadcasting) is a regional public broadcasting corporation serving the southwest of Germany, specifically the federal states of Baden-Württemberg and Rhineland-Palatinate. It is the second largest broadcasting organization in Germany. And has an audience reach estimated to be 14.7 million.
Okay, and here is the thing. SWR currently has about 15 different accounts on TikTok. I repeat 15. With more on the way. Pretty impressive. But it of course makes sense. Many TikTok accounts are one-trick ponies just like television or radio shows. So SWR has a TikTok account for their youth radio station DASDING but they have customized regional versions of that for the cities of Ulm @typischulm and Stuttgart @kesselgeschichten too. Ulm has 126K residents, @typischulm has 17.9 K Followers and 852 K Likes.
Besides that there is science (@solidscience), news (@newszone), german craftsmanship (@germanhandwerkskunst), comedy (@comedy.swr), entertainment (@vsspass), sustainability (@oekochecker), more radio stations (@swr3online) and home (@swrheimat). With a combined number of 9,2 M Likes.
If you think that is pretty cool, there is more. The SWR has teamed up with influencers and set up a SWR talent network to promote social media talent from Rhineland-Palatinate and Baden-Württemberg. Up to ten talents receive individual advice and professional editorial support for their channels in order to further develop themselves, their content and distribution on YouTube, Instagram and Tiktok (german press release).
Among the first TikTok talents are comedians Joy Beck (@spatzemitsoos, 5,2 M Likes) and Hirruiy Mossazghi (@pfalz.fluencer, 659,9K Likes ) and political scientist Nina Poppel (@nini_erklaert_politik, 2,3 M Likes). A clever way of acknowledging the relevance of influencers, joining forces and bringing in a regional tonality. Curious to see more. Disclaimer: I recently gave a paid TikTok input and channel feedback at SWR.
🇲🇾 Elections in Malaysia
In the battle to win over first-time voters, politicians in Malaysia have embraced social media, with TikTok emerging as a new battleground in the race to secure youth votes. More than 21 million people were eligible to vote to elect the Southeast Asian nation's fourth prime minister in four years (Deutsche Welle).
The election is the first since constitutional changes lowered the voting age to 18 and automatically registered voters, meaning there were 6 million more voters than at the previous election in 2018 (Guardian):
Muhyiddin Yassin, 75, the chair of Perikatan Nasional (PN), is among those to have tapped into TikTok trends during campaigning. In one video that has been liked hundreds of thousands of times, he swipes away the logos of rival political coalitions to the strains of the song Swipe by the Singaporean hip-hop artist Alyph.
Syed Saddiq, who became Malaysia’s youngest minister after the 2018 elections, is posting clips of campaign speeches, pleas for young people to vote – as well as clips of his two cats. In one video, he does nearly 60 seconds of press-ups (the time it takes to register for postal voting) to persuade people how quick the process is (Guardian).
TikTok said on Wednesday (Nov, 23) it was on high alert for content that violates its guidelines in Malaysia after authorities warned of a rise in ethnic tension on social media following the inconclusive general election: Reuters reviewed about 100 videos on TikTok, some of which featured people displaying weapons such as knives and machetes.
🐥 Me as a baby
Nathalie just sent me a TikTok this morning that threw me into a rabbit hole of the unconscious, full of imagined, shared and made-up memories. Wait, what am i even talking about.
As always with volatile and temporary internet aka TikTok phenomenon there is quite a bit to unpack here or as the essential resource and database Know Your Meme writes: it is impossible for the unindoctrinated person to understand.
There is a brazilian TikTok account named MestreEnsinador1, which translates to "Master Professor" in Portuguese, that has been posting videos of him playing with a puppet he calls his "teacher." The puppet is shown flying around the forest, doing his little dance, and even performing mysterious rituals.
The puppet's oddly humanlike movements sparked inspiration in one of his fans. TikToker @iz.khalifa decided to show her little brother one of the videos and try and convince him that the video was him as a baby. Her brother's visible confusion and eventual acceptance of the fact went viral, especially after he was duped with another video of him "in Sedona."
These are the pure basics taken from two articles about it on Know Your Meme. One added 6 days. Another one published 14 hours ago. But of course it is best to grasp the master out in the wild open or in Sedona.
EU confirms multiple ongoing investigations into TikTok data practices (Engadget)
U.S. House Republicans press TikTok on Chinese data sharing (Reuters)
TikTok Couldn’t Ensure Accurate Responses To Government Inquiries, A ByteDance Risk Assessment Said (Forbes)
🥜 New Features
TikTok Verification (via Twitter)
Search Shortcuts (via Twitter) Context: The Rise of TikTok as a Search Competitor
Dabloons, an imaginary economy (Guardian)
They call it algospeak (The New York Times)
Understanding TikTok is going on a little end-of-the-year hiatus. I need to finish stuff while listening to Thaiboy’s Dreamworld on constant repeat. Just learned that this genre has the name Drain (Dazed) now.
Be gentle. Be kind.