Goodbye musical.ly and hello TikTok. musical.ly, the video-sharing platform beloved by teenagers in 2016, has been rebranded into the application known as TikTok, which allows users to upload 15-second videos with music, filters, and other special effects. Although users on musical.ly mainly uploaded lip-synced versions of songs, users on TikTok have gravitated toward using additional effects like texts and pictures within their videos, which have transformed into memes and tutorials videos as well. Like many other social media apps, users can follow, like, save, and comment on posts and scroll through a feed, which contains recommendations for popular posts and accounts.
“I first found out about TikTok from the #obsessed challenge trend,” said Elaine Choi (11). “Many social media stars I follow on Instagram, as well as my friends in other schools, began uploading TikTok videos, and even convinced me to download the app itself. When my friends and I decided to actually try making a TikTok video, taking into consideration the various types of videos we could make with the variety of special effects the app offers, the program was surprisingly easy to use.”
Indeed, TikTok is both easy to use and easily accessible, as it is available for both iOS and Android users. Users must first sign up to create an account with their phone number, email, or other social media accounts such as Facebook or Instagram. Upon creation of an account, the app immediately recommends its users the most popular videos of that time, mostly videos created by celebrities or well-known influencers. Many lesser-known creators follow trends such as different hashtag challenges in hopes that their videos will go viral. Furthermore, TikTok provides a platform for teens to connect with each other and meet new people by collaborating with them on video projects.
“My favorite TikTok videos are reenactments of the movie Twilight,” said Minyoung Huh (12). “Twilight reenactments and Wattpad fan fiction videos personally remind me of my childhood and represent the culture Generation Z grew up in; to me, these videos symbolize an escape into fantasy that we created as a result of our disillusionment with the adult world.”
Nonetheless, while it is relatively easy to go viral on the app compared to other social media platforms, TikTok users have raised concerns about the app, especially regarding teen creators and influencers. Just last month, Charli D’Amelio, a 15-year-old TikTok star, decided to hold a meet and greet after just one of her videos went viral. However, the VIP tickets to her event were $100, a price many criticized as being unreasonable for her young fans, mostly teens or younger. She later uploaded a video on TikTok to explain that all of the money was to be sent to a charity organized by her friend, but users questioned why she didn’t make this announcement earlier along with the post announcing her meet and greet.
“Although I am not the most active TikTok user, I did hear about Charli D’Amelio’s meet and greet scandal,” said Andrew Song (12). “The story was pretty interesting, which may be why it was covered by many of the popular drama channels on Youtube, as well as vlogs of the meet and greet by her fans. From what I have seen from the vlog and review videos, I think the event was overpriced and immoral considering that during her $100 meet and greet, D’Amelio did not even provide her fans with personalized merchandise, gifts, or even food, but only a chance for them to film an ‘exclusive’ TikTok dance video with her.”