Introducing the Sometimes Misunderstood World of TikTok

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You’ve probably heard of TikTok, but whether you know exactly what it is and entails could be very much its own question. As a social media app, TikTok has grown in popularity in recent years, with millions of users sharing short-form videos of themselves with visual effects and sound bites aplenty.

If all of this is reminding you of anything, it might be Vine, another video-sharing app. However, while Vine came and went fairly quickly, TikTok looks like it could be very much here to stay. 

How exactly do you use TikTok?

Here’s how the app essentially works. After registering an account with TikTok, you can film videos, each up to 15 seconds long, of yourself doing… well, whatever you like. However, lip-syncing and comedy performing are popular pursuits on TikTok, which fosters easy collaborations, too. 

To collaborate with another user, simply reply to their video. Doing this, as Vox explains, “creates a split-screen diptych, thus feeding into an endless chain of reactions.”

Given the huge wealth of creative possibilities on TikTok, it perhaps shouldn’t be a  surprise that the app has soared in popularity. Predecessor Musical.ly, which also allowed users to lip-sync and put together fun videos, already attracted over 100 million users, notes Influencer Marketing Hub

That was where the membership figure stood back in August 2018, when the Chinese company ByteDance bought Musical.ly and moved its users and their content to its own app, TikTok. That app is broader in scope than Musical.ly was, as it has a less stringent focus on music. 

Why has TikTok sustained its high popularity?

TikTok has gained over 500 million monthly active users – while, in the United States alone, its most popular market, it has attracted more than 80 million downloads. However, what has driven the app’s continued growth in a world where social media apps were already ubiquitous? 

You might think “I don’t see the appeal” – especially if you have seen many of the “cringey” videos made on TikTok and posted in compilations on YouTube. However, TechCrunch points out that such videos attract less mockery on TikTok itself than they do elsewhere online, as such “cringey” content is commonplace on the app anyway. 

Being largely free of political or otherwise controversial content, the world of TikTok can feel refreshingly wholesome compared to the more long-established social networks. Upon logging into TikTok, it might not be long before you come across a video of someone praising their mother or urging people to pursue charitable efforts. That’s the kind of difference you get with TikTok. 

On TikTok, you’re firmly in control

It would be naive to argue that TikTok users are completely shielded from the kind of problems that beset users of other social networks. However, there remain options for locking down various parts of your TikTok account. For example, you can make that account private, disable commenting or downloads and prevent that account from receiving messages. 

This all leaves us with the question: what is TikTok? It’s sometimes dumb, occasionally clever… and, often, addictive. 

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