How TikTok Is Changing The World

TikTok is probably the biggest app in the world right now, but to paraphrase Spider-Man massively with new tech comes ripple effects upon the world – some of which you would never expect Here are 10 Surprising Effects TikTok is having on the world – and don’t forget to subscribe before we get going

Heck, you could even make a TikTok of you doing it Who knows 10 The Music Industry As we all know, the music industry has been in a state of perpetual flux pretty much since the internet became widespread Whether it’s Metallica vs Napster, BitTorrent or Spotify, the biz seems to have been in a state of constant readjustment against the next big shakeup

Most recently, that shakeup has come in the form of Tiktok – obviously, this whole list is about it The platform seemingly struck gold with its well-known combination of social networking and musical leapfrogging The best known-beneficiary of the paradigm shift has been Lil Nas X His 2019 mega-hit ‘Old Town Road’ took him from relative obscurity to superstardom when Tiktokers saw the song’s meme potential, which caught the attention of Billy Ray Cyrus and led to the most ambitious crossover event in history But it’s not just Lil Nas X; as tends to be the case, enterprising users like trap artist Sueco have been making music specifically to play to Tiktok’s preferences, raking in the royalties in the process

TikTok has turned into the new hitmaker So if you wanna make it big, best start chasing the algorithm 9 Censorship To anyone familiar with Tiktok, they know that it’s not just a massive domestic social network platform It’s a worldwide smash hit, from the US to the app’s country of origin – China

That’s pretty damn important when it comes to the country’s priorities and standards for content since there’s inevitably going to be a lingering suspicion that TikTok isn’t particularly tolerant of anti-Chinese sentiment Well, those suspicions were seemingly confirmed in September 2019 when the Guardian revealed a set of leaked documents showing that TikTok instructed its moderators to censor videos related to Tiananmen Square, Tibetan independence, or the banned religious group Falun Gong That also led to deep suspicion that content relating to the Hong Kong protests was being similarly cleansed from the platform TikTok owner ByteDance has denied restricting any HongKong content and claimed that the leaked guidelines were out of date, and had already been retired months before publishing But even so, all of this business has dogged Tiktok for quite a while and will probably continue to do so – maybe not among its Gen Z user base, but certainly among people in power

Speaking of which 8 National Security Risks Since TikTok has experienced a meteoric rise in popularity in the last few years – now the second most downloaded app worldwide behind Whatsapp – the software has come under a serious spotlight in the eyes of the US Government

That’s partly due to the censorship fears in the last entry, but it’s also because senators have raised concerns about data requests by China Since Bytedance is based in Beijing, Senators Chuck Schumer and Tom Cotton have claimed that Tiktok’s owners could be compelled "to support and cooperate with intelligence work controlled by the Chinese Communist Party" We don’t know how true that is and Bytedance has strongly denied the accusations, pointing out that their servers are kept in the US and Singapore But even so, the criticisms haven’t gone away, and there’s a range of actions that could be taken if the threat is considered credible enough According to the Brookings Institute, the worst-case scenario is that The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States demands Bytedance divests from Musical

ly, Tiktok’s predecessor, therefore stepping back from the US Market A mammoth undertaking and pretty unlikely, but a possibility all the same 7 Threatening Facebook So let’s step back from Tik Tok for a second and look at a much more established social network: Facebook Zuckerberg’s social media empire is near omnipresent in our lives at this point, whether we use the service or not

Thanks to targeted political ads with very little vetting or oversight, closed conspiracy groups and all other kinds of boomer nonsense, Facebook’s wild west approach to regulation has given rise to a disinformation culture perhaps never felt so acutely in a democratic society But don’t get confused – it’s not Facebook that’s the problem according to Zuckerberg in 2019, it’s Tiktok: The REAL threat to democracy There ARE valid, ongoing concerns about the platform, but it’s pretty rich coming from the man who hammered the cracks into western democracy That said, there might be something else going on You see, back in 2016, the Facebook CEO went pretty far out of his way to Zuck up to China so he could purchase what was, at the time, Musical

ly He even learned Mandarin to give a speech at a Chinese university Now, I’m not saying he’s bitter, but it could have something to do with Tik Tok overtaking Facebook with under 16s Either way, it looks like it’s made Facebook pretty desperate 6

Activism As a generation, it’s safe to say that Gen Z cares much more about the world around them than the age groups that came before, whether it’s boomers take-take-taking, Gen X cynicism or Millennials being mentally destroyed by growing up alongside the early internet So with that in mind, it makes sense that the Gen Z social media platform of choice is choc-full of activist content that’s radicalising the youth of today – in positive as well as negative ways For example, one 16-year-old Tiktok user named Gillian used the platform to organise a successful student strike over teachers’ pay And there’s plenty of other content covering topics from knife crime to trans rights And of course, Tiktok is at the forefront of the battle against climate change, with videos promoting the climate strike and slapping down denialism

But let’s be honest here, that’s probably not going to reach the audience who most need it Zoomers and Boomers don’t exactly travel in the same circles But that said, not all activism has a positive outcome, as you’re about to see 5 Propaganda While as you’ve seen, there’s a lot of good to come from political activism on Tiktok, but often well-meaning movements can be abused by bad actors with even worse intentions

And by bad actors, I mean ISIS Yes, the Islamic State has taken its campaign against the west to the most iconic tool of zoomer culture Like with other platforms – including Youtube, Twitter and Facebook – Islamic State agents and supporters have taken to the platform to promote their activities and draw in impressionable recruits Some of the content even used Tiktok native features like augmented reality to get the point across, which just sounds bonkers, to be honest I mean, imagine a terrorist trying to convince you to throw your life away with a facemoji

But it’s not just ISIS – the site is also susceptible to propaganda and disinformation from Nazis and white supremacists The hate speech even gets as blatant as “kill all *******” and “all **** must die” – I’ll let you work out who they’re talking about, but it ain’t Anglo-Americans lemme tell ya 4 Ruining Lives In India Now, it’s easy for Americans to see every new online trend as a generally western phenomenon, but that’s often far from the case – especially given the growth of the middle class in India, which now has the second most internet users behind China Take Tiktok for example

The platform is wildly popular in India, with 200 MILLION users each month But that popularity hasn’t come without a few hurdles for fans of the app For one thing, the authorities haven’t exactly been forthcoming with their approval It was even banned briefly in April 2019, over fears that it encouraged paedophiles and pornography Not only that but as its user base blooms, somewhat irresponsible use of Tik Tok is having some adverse effects on the users

For example, one police officer was suspended for dancing in front of a prison cell for a Tik Tok video, and two others caught the attention of the media for doing the same while guarding VIPs And of course, fears have been raised about privacy and national security 3 New Celebrities Generally, when people gather, a culture develops, then people get celebrated and before you know it, there are celebrities at the top of the pop culture pile – some of whom make it into the mainstream That’s true with Tiktok too, which now boasts its own cadre of big names with niche clout that almost no one over the age over 30 or probably even 23 will have heard of

But there is a bit of a difference Given the near-all encompassing use of the internet in the modern-day, you’d think that it’d be harder than ever to fight through the noise and make a name for yourself in this oversaturated age But that’s simply not true when it comes to Tiktok, which has created its own microcosm where popular content can rocket users to superstardom from obscurity Unlike sites like Youtube and Instagram, which sometimes feel like squeezing out the last blobs of toothpaste from the tube This new crop of celebs includes Loren Gray, Baby Ariel and Riyaz Aly, who found their fame on the platform itself, as well as a host of former vine stars who found a renewed calling

Still no idea who they are though 2 New Business Models When it comes to China, cross-cultural businesses are always tricky – that might not be any more true than in the world of social media Thanks to the strict regulations over public, private and online life, success in China pretty much means that you have to play by the CCP’s rules As a result, running a singular platform with the same user conditions is pretty much impossible unless companies commit to silencing criticism of the Chinese Regime, drawing attention to injustices or comparing Xi Jinping to Winnie The Pooh

As that would never fly with western users, we have this weird digital iron curtain where China has things like WeChat instead of Whatsapp and Weibo instead of Twitter But Bytedance may have solved that particular problem with its model as a company By partitioning Tik Tok from the Chinese version Douyin, the company has managed to operate successfully in both Chinese and non-Chinese markets and reap the benefits – despite the roadblocks of things like, y’know, congressional investigation Compare that to Facebook, which was banned in China in 2009 and lasted a whole ONE DAY when it relaunched in 2018 1

Millennials and Zoomers Older generations have always had it in for the youth of the day, from rock n’ roll to avocado toast Even now, a lot of that mud tends to be thrown in the general direction of “millennials”, a term that, despite having a reasonably solid age range at this point, has become an analogue for anyone too young to afford property But Tik Tok appears to be going some way to proving the delineation between millennials, generally born before ‘97, and Gen Z, who were born from ‘98 onwards Part of that is how Tik Tok emerged as the first true Gen Z-targeted platform, unlike us Millennial dinosaurs who remember the days of Myspace I don’t know about you, but it’s a real wake up call when youth culture no longer makes sense to you

And this split has some unintended consequences As Darcie Wilder points out in The Outline, a lot of the behaviours for which Gen Z is applauded, including ones on this list, are shared by their Millennial cousins but derided as self-obsession and woke virtue signalling It’s almost like young people aren’t a homogenous group Hmm

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