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TikTok Newsletter 72
The worst is here!
this is Understanding TikTok – War 2022 special edition. My name is Marcus. I woke up at 6:00 am this morning with an email from Bandcamp informing me of a new Hannah Diamond single. Things went down from there pretty quickly. What a terrible day. Spent it doomscrolling TikTok. War in Europe. Good Lord!
On the morning of 24 February 2022, Russian president Vladimir Putin launched a full-scale invasion into Ukraine. And you will find many parts of it on TikTok.
Sirens, shots, rockets, soldiers, tanks, crying mothers, reporters, bystanders, experts –real ones and self-proclaimed ones. You just do not know if things are real.
“Please. Verify. Any. Information. You. Are. Spreading. Please.”, tweets Abbie Richardson. And of course. She is right. The parachuting soldier on TikTok (Bro is recording an invasion). Is not real. Cheapfake, tweets Ben Collins. And there are a lot of them. Reposted by various accounts. Many of them have only sent out a few TikToks. False information intended to mislead? Or just boredom, sensationalism or sick war porn? Who could tell each and every time.
I found a specific sound of shots being used more than 700 times. Most of the videos show a random everyday situation that is interrupted by shots and the person filming trying to hide, sometimes dropping the phone. It seems as if the person is in a critical war-like situation. Videos like this please sensationalism, spread fear and uncertainty.
There is an urgent need by TikTok users to learn more about the conflict. When i searched for “Ukraine” on the app i got these search terms “others searched for”: “ukraine live” , “ukraine right now” , “ukraine front line”. Of course TikTok is messy when you are looking for current videos. You can not filter here. So you need to set up a social circle. More on that in second. Or you stick to “live”.
There were a lot of livestreams - allegedly from Ukraine. I screen recorded some of them. Most of the time you can see an endless string of solidarity messages or questions in many different languages and you can see TikTok gifts popping up constantly – e.g. roses. Each rose is a coin. And 70 coins are $1.10.
Obviously some people set up fake livestreams (from somewhere else, some even looped videos) to make money, as Sophia Smith Galer has pointed out on Twitter and TikTok. Ben Collins and Kat Tenbarge have written about that too.
So whom to follow in this time of uncertainty and ever-changing situations. There are quite a bunch of international journalists on the ground.
Haley Ott (TikTok), digital reporter at CBS News posted a video from Kyiv this morning. Hope she finds the time to do more. Interesting to see that her video has 591,3K views compared to averagely more like 2000 views on her other videos.
Other media outlets do a good job on the platform too, like Sky News, NBC News, CBS Mornings. Have you seen other good accounts. Please use the comments. Thanks!
As written in #69 and #71 the platform has been used to track the Russian army before the invasion. Obviously the military was not very happy with soldiers sharing sensible information: Russian posters warn troops not to use TikTok (Daily Mail). I mentioned some #TankTok accounts. Due to the pretty foggy situation on the platform and for avoiding doomscrolling i recommend to watch this brilliant WSJ video using TikTok and satellite images.
I leave this (TikTok said to restore Russian media account, video on Ukraine crisis after government intervention) for another debate. I have a really bad feeling that this was not the last time for me to feature the situation in a country less than 1000 kilometers away from Berlin. I leave it to Xena from Ukraine to end this day.