The world has never been enough for humanity; I mean look at us we are literally on track to occupy Mars. In 1989 when Tim Berners-Lee begun work on the first world wide web server, he did not imagine it would morph into an entire virtual universe that allows exchange of information over the internet. Within the last decade we have had the rise of the age of social media, platforms that were once deemed a mere distraction from the real world and of course cat videos, have now become core of our world. From the genesis of modern-day social media which is MySpace (2005) to TikTok, time has played a key role in its evolution.
This may come as a shock to you, but we have actual adults who have been raised on a diet of Facebook, Instagram, twitter and snapchat and so explains TikTok; seemingly the holy grail of social media.
“If Instagram Stories and Vine had a baby and then infused it with music, that’s TikTok.”
-Ryan Fiore, Vice President of Marketing at MANSCAPED, Inc.
Anyone reading this and has not seen a TikTok video or heard about it should tell us the secret to time travel before they go back. TikTok, formerly Musical.ly was acquired by Bytdance a tech company in Beijing that operates a number of content platforms in 2017 and merged its user base to become the mega social content platform that it is.
A mobile application, that allows creation of short videos and emphasizing on music, dancing, comedy and trends. Users can browse popular videos and explore hashtags. (Now that I put it that way, it just sounds like Instagram or youtube, right?)
Is It really the ‘Holy grail’?
You would think that watching people doing the exact same thing over and over in the most popular TikTok trends until time happens and the TikTok trend changes would somehow be boring but this is definitely not the case. It is oddly captivating and fascinating that on TikTok the person is changed by the content rather than the content being changed by the person. Totally weird.
Andy Warhol, who is largely considered as the father of pop art in the UK said, “In the future everybody will be famous for 15 minutes.” This was Warhol’s response when he was asked why he did not make traditional life long art like the Picasso’s. Interestingly today the 15–60 second sounds overlaid on your TikTok video can instantly earn you your 15 minutes of fame. Compared to other social platforms where your number of followers can be linked to you going viral, becoming TikTok famous involves jumping on existing famous trends and upload into the TikTok void and let the world be the judge. The machine learning tools deployed on TikTok make it efficient for an individual to get as much engagement as they deserve.
A basic TikTok video is uploaded and shown between a string of similar popular videos, to allow the viewers to be entertained. Data on complete watches, likes, comments, shares and downloads your video gets determines how many users are shown your video after. With over a billion TikTok users the chances are not like lightning.
TikTok really figured it all out; the app caters for the ever narrowing concentration span, content is much more funnier and markets itself without playing the guessing game of the algorithm, all this while maintaining its entertainment value.
The ‘Z’ in TikTok
We are all up to speed with ABCs of TikTok and now the ‘Z,’ of it all, Lil Nas X’ Old town Road (lol, I sound like a math problem in the making) broke the Billboard top 100 record for being the number#1 for 17 weeks straight. The 22-year record broken by a literal nobody weeks prior was heavily influenced by its TikTok trend which derived a meme out of the song.
TikTok was ranked as one of the favorite apps for generation Z according to Zebra IQ, a marketing and insights firm. Generation Z, whose oldest members are 23 years old and youngest members turning 8 this year have played a key role in boosting TikTok figures. It is a generation which has grown with digital tools at their finger tips and are much more in touch with shades of their identity and willing to share it making TikTok just the right content platform.
Time to go to Law School now…
Social media platforms have always been synonymous to legal battles and TikTok being the full package that it is; has not been shy of legal altercations. Most recently India, one of the biggest mobile markets has barred Google and Apple from allowing TikTok downloads within the country after the April 3 court ruling that stated the app encouraged pornography and sexual predators.
With app analytics showing over 240 million downloads in India, majority were angered by videos that promote domestic violence, animal cruelty, racism, child abuse and objectification of women in their country which they deemed as culturally offensive and ordered TikTok to take them down and take legal action against the perpetrators by handing over their details to authorities. The Bytedance company did not respond which resulted in negative reviews by the Indian population in the past two weeks. The global ratings tanked from 4.5 to 1.2 which forced Google to intervene taking down some of these reviews siting them as sperm abuse.
However, this is not the first time TikTok has had clashes with the law, early in 2019 FTC ruling fined the App $5.7 million for violating U.S. children’s privacy law. The application was charged with collecting personal data of children under the age of 13 without parental consent.
An update was pushed by TikTok that forces users to confirm their age but we all know how helpful that is on the internet. Like any other mixed audience applications TikTok is now pretending to be implementing these laws. TikTok launched a page to guide users on privacy and safety.
We have acknowledged the influence TikTok has on music, however, they are being sued for copyright infringement as they do not have adequate licensing for the music. Free advertising of the music is not enough for the white-collar people in music as royalties have to be paid. Universal music has had previous licensing negotiations with the company and claims for lost royalties. The National Music Publishers Association which has previously won huge settlements against major corporations such as Spotify and YouTube accuse TikTok of blatant infringement of copyright laws. Currently TikTok has a short-term deal in place with Universal, Sony and Warner that is set to expire soon.
What next for TikTok
The one stop application for short snappy videos ranging from comedy to DIYs is obviously at the top of social media food chain and may be a powerful tool for brands, politicians and journalist to funnel into the untapped generation Z market or suffer as a victim of its own undoing and run out of its 15 minutes of fame. Currently, the Corona virus taking center stage and with haziness of the future, the Chinese-based company is filling the lack of recognizable continuum through the TikTok app.