You are reading Understanding TikTok. My name is Marcus. I am a TikTok researcher at HAW Hamburg. Currently i am playing around with Substack Notes, a friendly Twitter clone. Will post everyday findings there for a while.
Today we talk about:
💀 Banning and embracing
🤠 No 5 – the number of the beast
💀 An army of influencers on a banned platform
The BBC recently urged its staff to delete TikTok from company mobile phones “unless there is a justified business reason” (The Guardian). Meanwhile the BBC TikTok account (116,4 M Likes) is alive and kicking with currently 15(!) videos that have been published in the last 24 hours. This perfectly sums up the inconsistent approach by many media companies, politicians, including the president of the United States.
On the one hand TikTok is too dangerous (Sky New Australia). On the other hand the Germany’s health ministry runs a popular TikTok account even if it restricted the app’s use for its staff (Politico).
As the US Government continues to weigh a potential ban on TikTok, the Biden Administration is also looking to utilize the app’s influence to sway young voters, with the White House working with hundreds of social media influencers to help communicate Biden’s policy agenda, ahead of a likely re-election campaign (Social Media Today).
Hundreds of unpaid, independent content creators have been given access to Biden's White House. They include: Harry Sisson, a 20-year-old NYU student who breaks down the day's news on TikTok. Vivian Tu, a former trader who discusses financial topics in short clips on TikTok and Instagram (Axios).
According to a recent study by Piper Sandler, around 37% of US based teenage users stated that TikTok was their favorite social media platform with Snapchat (28%) and Instagram (23%) as the second and third most influential social media apps (Digital Information World).
So you want to ban a platform viewed as a potential vector for foreign influence, but you want to use the platform for connecting with prospective voters. Well, let’s see how that goes. \_(ツ)_/¯
🤠 MrBeast – N°5
Let’s talk about MrBeast for a sec. Jimmy Donaldson better known as MrBeast, is an American YouTuber. With 140 million subscribers in April 2023 he has the most-subscribed channel by an individual on the platform.
Who is MrBeast? Donaldson has counted from 0 to 100,000 for 40 straight hours, donated 20,000 pairs of shoes to South African children, planted 20 million trees, helped cure the blind, gave away a bunch of cars, has recorded a 12-hour video saying "PewDiePie" (a swedish YouTuber) 100,000 times, created a food company, a burger restaurant etc. – all the normal stuff for a 24 year old YouTuber who said he turned down a $1 billion deal for his YouTube channel and associated companies.
In October 2022 MrBeast publicly talked about TikTok dying soon but in fact he has become the fifth most followed person on TikTok with the fastest follower growth rate since then as the visualisation by Infludata above shows. And there is some momentum….
The top 5 most followed TikTok personalities have been pretty stable ever since Khaby Lame (Life hack curator) dethroned Charli D’Amelio (transitioning to mainstream media) in June 2022 with Bella Poarch (the most liked video on TikTok), Addison Rae (highest-earning TikTok personality in 2020) on place three and four. Will Smith (Hollywood) and Zach King (Vine Broomstick king) fighting for place five.
🍄 What else?
Whatever happens next to TikTok in the US. We will always have this CNN article: The biggest ways TikTok has changed American culture. Quote: TikTok hasn’t just contributed to the cultural conversation. It’s literally changed how entire industries operate and affected how we live, eat, watch and buy. In fact, even if you’ve never spent a single second on the app, there’s likely something in your life that has been altered by TikTok’s potent influence. (CNN)
TikTok creators are being arrested for violating religious laws in Nigeria Digital rights. Advocates say social media companies like TikTok have a responsibility to protect their users in these situations. (Rest of the world)
TikTok’s poor content moderation fuels the spread of hate speech and misinformation ahead of Indonesia 2024 elections. In Indonesia, a multicultural country with a multitude of ethnic and religious communities, the rise of ethnoreligious hate speech as well as misinformation and disinformation in the digital realm has emerged as a pressing issue. (The Conversation)
TikTok has been fined £12.7m by the UK's data watchdog for failing to protect the privacy of children. It estimated TikTok allowed up to 1.4 million UK children aged under 13 to use the platform in 2020. The video-sharing site used the data of children of this age without parental consent, according to an investigation by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). (BBC)
The campaign to save TikTok has been years in the making TikTok began working to win over the U.S. and European governments long before the latest concerns about its Chinese ownership. (Politico)
If you have a particular question concerning TikTok, please do not hesitate to ask in the comments or over at notes. Happy to help if I can. Thanks for reading. Speak soon.
I don't see quite the level of inconsistency in the first item that you do. If you're a political/media entity operating in a market where you believe the biggest social platform has serious security issues, it makes sense you would continue to use it to promote content while it remains so, while at the same time removing it from corporate devices with sensitive data, and/or supporting legislation that would ban it. Until the latter is successful it doesn't achieve anything to stop using it for broadcast - could even weaken your efforts