Never heard of TikTok? What about Vine? If you’re familiar with the latter, TikTok is very similar to the dearly departed app. But with more controversy.
Launched in 2017, TikTok is a Chinese invention that rapidly became a viral sensation, accumulating over half a billion users in that short amount of time, beating out Twitter, Snapchat and having more downloads than Facebook and Youtube.
Its parent company, ByteDance, is now valued at $75 billion. This makes it the most valuable startup ever, beating the likes of Uber, Airbnb, and hundreds of other famous and long lasting companies.
TikTok functions similarly to Vine in that it consists of 15 second videos that are recorded and uploaded by users, who are mostly teens (aren’t they all?). The app’s layout is simple: each user has a timeline, a search function and some hashtags where they can find popular and new content. TikTok has been recognized as a “joyful” and positive app, highlighting goofier content that ranges from lip sync videos to memes and dance challenges. So, it’s basically Internet humor at its best.
Despite the app’s huge popularity, it has encountered some controversy. An investigation conducted by Motherboard found that there’s a community of users who request explicit videos and content from minors, with a few bios requesting nudes, such as this one spotted by Motherboard:
(guy) looking for vids and nudes, and add me to groups I share vids
Although abusers and trolls have always found ways to sneak into all sorts of social media sites, TikTok has a thriving community of children and teens and less security measures than its competitors. “When a young girl dances in skimpy clothes or imitates sexy dances, you’re sure to find people in the comments either asking them to continue making these kinds of videos, saying they’re sexy or asking for their Snapchat or DM,” YouTuber Le Rois des Rats tells The Times.
As a response to these criticisms, TikTok has started a community well-being series with the purpose of educating users on how to use the app’s filters and security measures.
All in all, TikTok sounds like a good app that may or may not have some staying power. Still, social media and kids aren’t always a good mix, especially if the platform in question relies on video content.