TikTok, a China-based social media app, has soared in popularity since its initial release in 2017, becoming the most downloaded app in the US in October 2018 and third most downloaded in the world by October 2019.
Users, 41 percent of whom are aged between 16 and 24, according to Globalwebindex, create and share videos up to 60 seconds in length, consisting of comedic content with singing, dancing and lip-syncing. The app has given way to various trends and challenges, such as “e-boys and e-girls,” “VSCO girls,” and “vibe checks.”
“I decided to download TikTok just because it was funny,” senior Paula Bathalon said. “I saw a lot of people making videos and I started making some as a joke.”
ByteDance, TikTok’s parent company, acquired the karaoke app Musical.ly in November 2017 in an attempt to break into US markets. The two apps shared similarities with their short video formats, ability to edit and add filters to content, adding “sounds” that play in the background and their popularity with a younger audience.
“TikTok is just a fun app to use,” senior Jennifer Nguyen said. “I like going on it to see all the funny videos people come up with, and all the features it has for editing makes it so I can make funny videos too. It kind of reminds me of how people used to go viral by making short, funny videos on Vine.”
TikTok’s software caters a user’s feed to the content it predicts they would like to see. Users frequently tag their videos “#foryou,” “#foryoupage” and “#fyp” in hopes of appearing on others’ “For You” pages. In a social and cultural climate that has all but replaced young people’s dreams of achieving fame from A-list movie actors to the more accessible social media influencer, TikTok has become a place where everyone can be a “creator” and go viral, even high school students. A TikTok gaining traction on multiple peoples’ “For You” pages is typically the starting point for a viral video.
“I just made a TikTok with a popular sound and it got on a lot of people’s “For You” pages,” sophomore Emma Payze said. “I was surprised and excited [about going viral] and so were my friends. When I first had TikTok I [wanted to go viral] but I just do it for fun.”
The app has become so popular that its use among teens rivals that of other popular social networking apps like Instagram and Snapchat.
“I’d say that TikTok is one of the most used apps for me and my friends,” Nguyen said. “It’s easy to get caught up in watching all the funny stuff there is to see because all the videos are so short and accessible.”
Like most social media platforms, people are subject to negative comments and a fair share of hate from online viewers. Senior Paula Bathalon said she has recieved both positive reception as well as hate on her videos.
“A few of my videos did get a lot of hate but I try not to go through all the comments because there are a lot of hate comments,” Bathalon said. “I just don’t look at them or I either block them or I think it’s funny that they are so mean that I actually like their comments.”
Despite amassing thousands of likes and followers, Bathalon said she uses the app purely for entertainment.
“I’m just having fun on the app and it’s a way to release stress,” Bathalon said.