TikTok Newsletter 15

👨‍👩‍👧 Claudia Conway 🏡TikTok Houses (and the elections) 🗞️ TikTok Journalism 🎻 From Duet to Sextet

Hello subscriber!

Hope you are doing good. It is October. The US presidential election comes closer. The Covid-19 numbers around here (Berlin Mitte) are rising and the Fleetwood Mac meme hype should be over soon. I spare you videos of CEOs, pumpkins, popstars and former TV personalities trying hard to get the original vibe i explained last week.

Today we will talk about

👨‍👩‍👧 Exclusive informations on TikTok
🏡 Conservative Hype House vs. Democratic Hype House
🗞️ Journalistic micro-influencers
🎻 The first TikTok musical

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👨‍👩‍👧 Claudia Conway

Claudia Conway is a 15-year-old girl. Despite her TikTok bio “just ur average teenage girl” she has 1.3M followers and famous parents. She is the daughter of the former White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway and the Lincoln Project cofounder George Conway. She first went viral in June for her political TikToks in which she voiced her support for the Black Lives Matter movement, distanced herself from her mother's politics, and expressed her dislike of President Donald Trump.

In one of Conway's recent TikToks, the teenager revealed that her mother had tested positive for COVID-19, claimed that the former Trump adviser initially lied about her test result, and suggested that the president's condition was more serious than had been reported (Business Insider, October 6).

While she has been hailed as a “whistleblower” or part of “the resistance” by some, others have pointed out that she is not a “source” or a “mascot” (Melmagazine). Rebecca Jennings has a great article on the whole topic: Claudia Conway’s TikToks, explained.

Quote: “Young people should be allowed to be outspoken, rebellious, emotional, and even inconsistent on the internet without the social media machine elevating it to something more than it is….Of course teenagers are getting loud online. After all, the internet is the only place where they have a real say.”

The question remains for journalists on how to cope and/or make use of exclusive information provided on TikTok while protecting the mental health of sources. On another level we see an interesting gap in the context of media usage, media literacy and self-conception here.

🏡 TikTok Houses (and the elections)

15 weeks into this newsletter endeavour and we have not talked about houses?! The idea of a content house is not new – YouTube collaboration houses appeared years ago. The idea was co-opted by popular TikTokers. It all started in December  2019 with the Hype House (18.8 M Follower, 524.8 M Likes ), a rental mansion in one of Los Angeles’s wealthy gated communities filled with a bunch of young successful creators. Taylor Lorenz has written extensively about it in the New York Times.

And here you have: Everything You Need to Know About TikTok's Hype House (Seventeen, September 17). And here is: The Ultimate TikTok Houses List (Kapwing, September 16). There are several ones in Europe (Ireland, UK, Spain, France) too. And here is a deep dive by Rebecca Jennings on Vox: A TikTok house divided if you want to learn more.

Yet again it was Taylor Lorenz who wrote about political houses on TikTok. Not as physical homes or mansions but “virtual, ideological ones represented by group accounts”. The Conservative Hype House is one of the biggest political accounts on the app, with 1.5 million followers, writes  Sophia Smith Galer (BBC, October 6). She cites Institute of Strategic Dialogue disinformation lead Ciaran O'Connor: "It's not clear what the nature of the relationship is between the Conservative Hype House and the president's campaign. The channel is clearly supportive of Trump and his official campaign architecture. But there is no information to evidence a more formal partnership for promotion or advertising purposes." Compared to that the 174.5K followers of the Democratic Hype House seem to be left behind when it comes to numbers.

As mentioned in newsletter 14  both campaigns in the US have avoided TikTok despite “an 'entirely untapped' generation of new voters” (Business Insider) and an unclear but vast amount of users discussing politics and promoting or devaluating the candidates. I am curious to skim through the future phd thesis that sorts things out here and includes a huge map of relevant micro influencers in the 2020 elections like 0liviajulianna, meenaharris or maryjolaupp.

🗞️ TikTok Journalism

There was a TikTok & journalism session at this year’s News Impact Summit organized by The European Journalism Centre and the Google News Initiative.

It will probably be online next week. Til then you can read what Adam Tinworth wrote about the session. Quote: “Indeed, there was a consistent message that you might not get traffic, and you might not get a community, but it's worth experimenting there for the potential relationship you can start developing with a younger audience, if you can justify the expenditure of time.” Another interesting aspect Adam mentions is tackling dwindling trust with building journalistic micro-influencers!

And here is the mission statement by the german Tagesschau.

🎻From Duet to Sextet

I have presented some creative usages of TikToks duet-feature before. In newsletter 10 i showed a great way of doing interviews. And in newsletter 12 thx to Laura i posted a duet used for debunking fake news. End of September TikTok has announced the launch of three new Duet options and yet again Laura sent me a phantastic creative collaboration. I do not know if you are into musicals. I was not. Until now. 

Okay. That’s it. Things that did not make it on the newsletter this week:

+ German Politicians
+ Farming Tik Tok
+ Cabin Porn
+ French Tennis
+ Le Creuset TikTok
+ Animator TikTok

Make sure to spread the news or love. Or both. Marcus 🦑