TikTok Newsletter 47

Social Activism & Discourse. Egypt’s Culture Wars. Fashion’s TikTok Obsession.


This is Understanding TikTok – something for the weekend-edition. My name is Marcus.

Hold your breath, Cher is on TikTok now. Today we talk about:

✊ Social Activism & Discourse
🇪🇬 Egypt’s Culture Wars
🪅 Fashion’s TikTok Obsession

✊ Social Activism & Discourse

I have covered different forms of social activism in recent newsletters. Compare ✊ The next platform for political activism (#34) and 💄Make-Up Activism (#32). Therefore i was happy to see a new short study by Daniel Le Compte and Daniell Klug at Carnegie Mellon University: It's Viral!" - A study of the behaviors, practices, and motivations of TikTok Social Activists.

I was especially happy to see a line of thinking in their qualitative semi-structured interviews with nine TikTok users that argue against accusations that the platform per se shortens discourse due to the length of the videos being posted. A strange argument, made amongst others by a german professor for political data science on german public radio recently (Hinter dem Videoschnipsel steckt die Diskursverkürzung).

Gen Z is political, engaged, and willing to enact tangible change with their activism on TikTok outperforming the performative, as another study by Reach3 has found out.

Back to Le Compte and Klug. Social activism on social media platforms has been increasing drastically over the past 15 years. The interaction and discussion on TikTok “largely occurs through three main features” – of course that is Duet, Stitch and “Comment in video”.

These forms are crucial for social activism purposes, such as “education on new topics, prompting of collective action, and discourse on divisive issues.” Favourite quote: “One participant in particular used a near ‘academic’ process to research, study, and collect information and evidence about a topic, creating a ‘Master Document’ that noted references and various points of opinion and evidence, before creating a script for a multi-part series of videos, one of which had 15 parts.”

So do not come at me arguing with the length of a single video (by the way up to 3 minutes these days or you can go live).

🇪🇬 Egypt’s Culture Wars 

TikTok can serve as a portal into different worlds. And i am not talking private jets and millennial mommy vloggers here. I had to think about the portal idea when i skimmed through Haneen Hossam’s TikTok account. 928.5KFollowers 7.3MLikes. Bio: Offline❤️👌🏻. Last video posted: March 12, 2020.

The Egyptian police arrested her on June 22, 2021 two days after she failed to appear in court for her sentencing to 10 years on "human trafficking" charges.

Al Jazeera:  Hossam was among five Egyptian social media influencers who were sentenced to two years in jail in July 2020 for promoting immorality by encouraging women to make money through social media followings. An appeals court overturned the ruling in January, but introduced new charges of human trafficking. The five accused were released in February after spending eight months in jail. The decision has outraged rights defenders who condemned the prosecution of the two women as part of a crackdown by Egyptian authorities on female social media influencers.

More background: Egypt’s TikTok crackdown targets young female influencers (August 2020)

🪅 Fashion’s TikTok Obsession

I covered  👜 Front Row Fashion (#30) in February. GQ now asks: Is Fashion Too Obsessed With TikTok? Quote: “This past weekend, Milan Fashion Week featured two Spring 2022 {that’s Prada and Fendi} collections that seemed to confirm that fashion is getting extremely online.” I love the phrase. Honey, you are extremely online.

Maybe you are online out of pure devastation? Quote: “But the fleeting moods of online culture seem to be anchoring fashion around a passe concept of trendiness. Perhaps this is the only way for designers to find direction in a time when there are no trends.”

Is fashion entering a period of endless remixes, of reworked vintage and novelty accessories, the article asks. Maybe, maybe not. We will see. Soon. Meanwhile you can find Another Magazine on TikTok too (@anothermag 57 Followers, 53 Likes). Not sure where this account is going. I guess we’ll never know… i mean find out soon.

By the way: Prada was last active on TikTok March, 3 while Fendi seems to only post product placement videos promoting a Polaroid camera lately. Oh, and here is another nice take on Hedi Slimane and Celine Nails the Way TikTok Is Now Driving Fashion. It is from last year, but still worthwhile.

📍 What else?

📍 The Reuters Digital News Report 2021 is out. There is a bunch of TikTok related infos in it. Here is a PDF only for you.

📍Black TikTokers strike to protest dance appropriation. Some refuse to choreograph Megan Thee Stallion song, highlighting how white users get credit for Black creativity (The Guardian / Insider).

📍Kyle Chaka has a new column in the New Yorker 🙌. Learn more about “Main Character Energy” now.

📍What the heck is TikTok Jump?  Well, it expands the app’s potential for third-party integrations so you never have to leave the app again. Learn more in this Twitter thread.

📍 I’m Scared of the Person TikTok Thinks I Am. I am too.

That is that. Speak soon. Ciao. Marcus