TikTok Newsletter 57

Memetic Branding. Sploshing. And Cream.


This is Understanding TikTok – your weekly TikTok dose 💊. My name is Marcus. Douyin, China’s version of TikTok, will limit use of the platform for children to 40 minutes a day (BBC).

This week we talk about:

👺 Extremists, trolls and deep fakes
🤡 Memetic Branding
📻 A Rolling Stone TikTok Podcast

👺 Extremists, trolls and deep fakes

TikTok says it has "absolutely no place" for violence and hate. I guess you heard that one before. Politico reports that the United States Department of Homeland Security confirms that extremists used TikTok to promote Jan. 6 violence.

“The DHS document flags several instances of extremist posts promoting violence throughout 2020 and in the lead-up to the insurrection at the Capitol. Ahead of the Jan. 6 riots, one TikTok user posted a video encouraging those attending the protests to bring firearms. Others users shared videos in early- to mid-2020 with instructions for sabotaging railroad tracks, accessing the White House through tunnels, and interfering “with the U.S. National Guard during riots,” the alert said, citing DHS and law enforcement reports.” (Politico)

TikTok’s community guidelines prohibit deepfakes, inauthentic behavior, and hate speech, Media Matters reminds us. Olivia Little and Abbie Richards write about TikTok trolls creating deepfakes and deceptively editing real users’ videos to promote “transracialism” - a bogus idea that a person can transition to a different race, often used as a right-wing talking point to invalidate the identities of transgender people.

🤡 Memetic Branding

In 1999 Naomi Klein wrote a book called No Logo. In 2021 TikTok creator Emily Zugay (Insider: a 24-year-old pet portrait artist from Southeast Wisconsin) redesigned logos by famous brands using Adobe Illustrator. Many brands, including Nascar, Tinder, Tampax, Washington Post and TikTok itself used her “ugly” logos as profile pictures.

What would Klein say about all this? No idea. Will we remember this little episode in a year or two? Maybe if it finds its way into some brand and marketing guides for undergraduate students. Until then let’s see what else late capitalism has prepared for us.

📻 A TikTok Podcast

I sat on a train and listened to a podcast. It is called Don’t let this flop. It is a Rolling Stone podcast on TikTok and internet culture hosted by Ej Dickson and Brittany Spanos

Rolling Stone writes: In Episode One, Dickson and Spanos first explain “sploshing,” a gross-out food fetish trend that Jason Derulo may or may not be participating in, discussing this Insider article. The hosts also examine some of the stars of “straight TikTok” — Addison Rae, Bella Poarch and the D’Amelio sisters — and whether or not they’ll successfully cross over into the entertainment world outside of TikTok.

The 46 minutes show sounds a lot like two friends of mine discussing stuff with a little bit of too much laughter. Just the topics are different here. If you know who the D’Amelio sisters are but have not seen their Hulu show and if you do care about Jason Derulo the chit-chat is all for you. At one point Dickson and Spanos compare famous TikTokers Addison Rae and the D’Amelio sisters to Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston.

Curious to see how this podcast evolves. Would be great to hear a TikTok coverage that goes beyond the all-to-often shallow trend waiting just around the corner to be exploited for a day or two. 

What else?

🫐 I don’t know why it took TikTok so long. Welcome Berries and Cream Tok. Or as Mashable writes: DeepTok is the new mainstream.

There is a new emoji. It is a chair.🪑Chair: used on TikTok as a placeholder with no single meaning. One use is implied to be sexual, other times simply to create confusion or to fill space. New in September 2021. You are welcome. Emojiwrap

Unvaccinated TikTokers Are Calling Themselves ‘Purebloods’ (Vice). The rest of the world calls them idiots. 💉

And here is some coffee without cream. Enjoy.