The strange world of TikTok came to us from China and created a social network like we had never seen before. Despite having an interface similar to Instagram, this network does not live on groups of friends who follow and are followed.
On the contrary, TikTok encourages its users to frequently skip from group friends to follow other users and other content.
With many hundreds of millions of users around the world, TikTok innovated by shamelessly assuming that people use social networks much more to pass the time, than to socialize with friends, seek information or defend social causes.
Maybe that’s why its great audience is teenagers and children. The age limit for registering in the app is 12 years old, with parental consent, but the truth is that no one checks or controls who registers.
The strange world of TikTok
A karaoke app that has become a worldwide phenomenon
It all started in 2014 when the karaoke app Musical.ly was created by a startup from Shanghai, but based in the USA. The target audience was American teenagers who strongly joined the production, publication and sharing of short videos in which they filmed themselves playing back and dancing to famous songs offered by the application.
In 2017, the Chinese company ByteDance bought this app and passed all the records of Musical.ly users to a new app they called TikTok.
Since then, the number of users has grown exponentially and the app has reached around 150 countries, having reached its greatest success in China, where social networks such as Instagram are banned.
Videos that never end
TikTok lives off the publication and dissemination of very short videos, between 15 seconds and 1 minute, in vertical format, with music or any other type of audio manipulated by the user.
Many videos are still choreographed playbacks in which the sound has been sped up or slowed down to create humorous situations, but there is an endless amount of content to view and share.
By registering in the app, the user has access to a powerful video editor, full of filters, stickers and visual effects, and to a music library organized by popularity and theme, which can be increased if the user uploads music and sounds from your mobile phone.
The application is truly user-friendly, as any child can use it, and it offers the normal features of social networks such as interacting with other users, sending private messages, sharing, commenting and putting “likes”.
The algorithm chooses
With the development of social networks, the role played by algorithms in choosing what users can see has become increasingly obvious.
Of course, for some years, the idea was still sold that it was the user who chose what he saw and that he only saw what his friends published. But today it is clear that this is not the reality of social networks, despite companies like Facebook and Instagram not openly admitting it.
In the strange world of TikTok this reality is in plain sight. The company that owns the app, ByteDance, doesn’t mind making it clear that control of everything users see is done by the company.
Upon entering the app, the user is literally flooded with videos that the application chooses for him to watch using an algorithm that performs mathematical calculations on his tastes and preferences.
Here it is not the videos created by your network of friends that reign, but the ones that the “machines” have decided you will enjoy watching.
A network for the “selfie” generation
TikTok is a hit with the generation that grew up taking selfies and recording themselves to put themselves on YouTube. They are users who, from an early age, have improved their ability to understand what can be considered humorous by their peers and what can generate likes for their publications.
Hence, much of its content and meaning may seem irrelevant and overlooked by anyone over the age of 25.
While for some TikTok is a successful meme factory that can make content go viral much more easily than any other social network, for others it is a factory of influencers and celebrities who get millions of followers in the blink of an eye.
We went from famous youtubers and instagrammers to tiktokers, and fame, although temporary, seems to come at an earlier age.
TikTok: advantages and disadvantages
The fact of TitkTok videos being created frequently about music, makes this one of the most transversal and inclusive social networks ever.
The language barrier is overcome by the universality of music, humor and “cringe”a popular expression among younger people that qualifies a video that is so embarrassing it can empathize with the embarrassment
Another point in its favor is the fact that most of the videos are not related to news, which means that the TitTok database hardly loses currency?? It can thus grow infinitely, losing very little of its content’s relevance.
TikTok has grown almost organically in several world markets and the first problems have already emerged in India and Indonesia, where it was detected by the authorities. pornographic and cyberbullying content??
As this is a network controlled by algorithms, the Chinese company promised to assign teams of people to control the content, deleting it, and pressing the security mechanisms in the user registry??
The company has also secured new rules for publishing videos around the world, which limit topics such as politics and religion and which seem to be more in the interests of the Chinese government than safety standards.
Analysts point to these rules as an open door for China to censor videos on politically sensitive topics such as the Tian’anmen Square conflicts or the Hong Kong demonstrations.
Since TikTok has already largely surpassed Whatsapp downloads for iOS and Android, all these constraints gain greater dimension, such as the fact that this app manages to gather the right tools to perfectly explore, not only the attention deficit that affects humanity digital, but also their alienation from the real world.
This is increasingly difficult to compete with a reality filmed in 15 seconds that almost always ends with a humorous punch line, but that’s what TikTok is doing by creating an alternative world where it’s already possible to live 24 hours a day.