TikTok Newsletter 55

Misinformation, Music Journalism, Meme Librarian, Marketplace API

Guten Tag.

This is Understanding TikTok – your weekly TikTok briefing 🪶. My name is Marcus. I
have spent the week talking about TikTok to media educators, joined a zoom call by Antonio Amadeu Foundation on TikTok & #BTW21, did a workshop for a public broadcaster analysing a bunch of media accounts and i discussed TikTok as a potential future for music journalism at Reeperbahn Festival Conference.

This week we talk about:

🦠 Misinformation
🎺 Music Journalism
🖨️ TextTok
💥 New Stuff

🦠 COVID-19 and vaccine misinformation

I saw three articles this week on covid misinformation (regularly going viral) on the platform. The platform that still clings to the argumentative baseline that it is all about entertainment. Let’s have a quick look at all three.

📱Media Matters for America (according to Wikipedia) is a politically left-leaning nonprofit organization which describes itself as a media watchdog for scrutinizing right-leaning media outlets. Media Matters reviewed and tracked which videos TikTok’s algorithm recommended after engaging with anti-vaccination and COVID-19 misinformation. Quote: “After engaging with this content, our algorithm quickly began filling the FYP feed with almost exclusively anti-vaccination and COVID-19 misinformation videos.”

🐎 There’s no evidence that ivermectin (a horse deworming medication) is safe or effective to treat Covid-19, and its manufacturer, Merck, has even come forward discouraging people from using it as a treatment for the novel coronavirus. Nonetheless misinformation about ivermectin on TikTok in particular is rampant, reports Rolling Stone, with the hashtags #ivermectin4covid and #ivermectinworks garnering over 997,000 views and 13,000 views respectively. TikTok removed those hashtags after receiving a request for comment from Rolling Stone. So they obviously did not monitor them before or just did not care. 

📇 Ryan Broderick has written about the TikTok Anti-Vax Doxing Thing. TikTok user @rx0rcist started making videos debunking dangerous pandemic content on the app. Probably overdoing it by “going after, it seems like, any right-winger she comes across that she doesn’t like” and doxing them (Doxing is the act of publicly revealing previously private personal information about an individual or organization). “I think Sparks’ intentions are, for the most part, admirable”, writes Broderick. He sees her as some kind of Batman with TikTok being the mayor of Gotham who refuses to do anything about the crime. 


I have become a bit allergic when journalists add a random expression to the Tik or the Tok. DermTok anyone? But with TextTok things are different. Of course. Interesting as ever. A text by Kate Lindsay for Embedd: Rise of the TextTok.

A few weeks back, Taylor Lorenz reported on the rise of text-based memes, writes Lindsay, and adds “but there’s something next-level about TextToks.” Just read the thing here or join me rubbing my eyes due to the sheer beauty of this paragraph:

The original memes were, of course, text-based. As Amanda Brennan, senior director of trends and the meme librarian at social media agency XX Artists, told Lorenz. This trend, though, is a cocktail of 2021 internet culture, combining the syntax of Twitter, the chaotic images of late-era Instagram, and the look and feel—and often, Gen Z vibe—of a TikTok.

Love it. When i grow up i want to become a senior director of trends sitting right next to the meme librarian. We could have so much fun.

🎺 Music Journalism

Swedish pop legends ABBA have officially joined the video platform (Billboard). I personally could not care less. But i do care about the actual status of stuff that could be considered music journalism on the platform. Here are a few articles:

📍The Future of Music Journalism… Is on TikTok, Rolling Stone, December 2020
📍The Next Generation Of Music Critics Is Here, Junkee, February 2021
📍Studies Show TikTok’s Music Clout, Variety, July 2021
📍Meet TikTok's Spotify influencers, Mashable, August 2021

And here is cut-up of some bits and pieces: There’s a void in terms of Gen Z music curation. No one is reading blogs. Mainstream music journalism is largely uninterested in promoting discovery. The types of TikToks posted by music TikTokkers vary in style and taste, but include playlists for a certain mood or vibe. That influencer-ish, Vlog-ish style of music journalism might be the future.  TikTok is continuing to change the way we listen to and discover new music. Over the last six months, the popularity of amateur music critics and reviewers has steadily grown. Spaces feel more like an interactive and egalitarian community, rather than an expert delivering an opinion to then be discussed in the comments. I decided to go with TikTok — that’s what all my friends were using. Can you earn money with that? Yeah, why not. We better ask Alice and Faye.

💥TikTok’s New Stuff

💸 Promote –
After testing it out with selected profiles over the past few months, TikTok is now rolling out its Boost-like ‘Promote’ option. Promote allows a specific post to quickly reach a larger audience by paying a certain sum. It is only available for public clips that don’t use copyright-protected music (Socialmediatoday). How effective is it? Well, no one knows for sure. TikTok will probably tell you that it is very effective. 🙃

🫐 Creator Marketplace API – Here is another thing TikTok is working on. The company is rolling out a new “TikTok Creator Marketplace API,” which allows marketing companies to integrate more directly with TikTok’s Creator Marketplace, the video app’s in-house influencer marketing platform. (Techcrunch). Context: Creator marketplaces are now common to social media platforms with large influencer communities. Facebook offers its Brands Collabs Manager, for Facebook and Instagram; YouTube has BrandConnect; while Snapchat recently announced a marketplace to connect brands with Lens creators.​​

📈 Shiny happy people laughing – People on the platform have a great time, says TikTok (Socialmediatoday). They even made a study - conducted in partnership with Kantar among more than 7,000 global TikTok users. Quote: “Users find a constant stream of joyful entertainment, liberating creativity, and endless inspiration that’s tailored just for them. It’s a positive experience that primes people to join in the fun and take action.” Well, if you just forget about extremism, hate speech (#54) covid misinfo ⬆️ for a moment….

That’s it. Here is a TikTok video i saw this week. 

Take care.