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What is TikTok?

From parents wondering why in the world their Gen-Y child is dancing to the same clip of a song over and over again to those up to date with current affairs wondering what Donald Trump’s beef is with it, many people are gagging to know just what is TikTok?

TikTok began to make a splash on the world social media stage after merging with similar app in 2018, even though it’s actually been around since 2012. TikTok is owned by massive Chinese multinational corporation ByteDance which – according to Business Insider – was valued at over $100 billion earlier this year.

That’s the basics, but what is the app for and why do so many people love it?

What is TikTok?

TikTok is a social video app that lets users share short clips, usually tied to popular music and often of the user (and friends or family) dancing.

These 15-second videos have taken hold of the social media zeitgeist far more than anyone could’ve imagined – even getting the Facebook-alike treatment with new Instagram Reels appearing very similar.

While the crux of the app is short sharp dance routine videos, users have innovated across the app – with things like quick exercise classes and easy-to-follow recipes gaining prominence.

A huge part of the success of the app is its “For You” page, a curated scrolling timeline that every creator strives to feature on. Working similar to the “Explore” page on Instagram, the feed uses TikTok’s algorithm to provide you with a hard-to-resist mix of popular content (such as daily viral challenges and new trends using popular music) as well as clips tailored to your tastes.

Why is TikTok in the news?

TikTok is hugely popular, moving beyond 2.3 billion downloads earlier this year (via Business Insider). The app seems to have also gained an additional lease of life while many have been stuck inside in 2020.

The popularity of the app combined with the fact its owned with mammoth Chinese company ByteDance has plonked TikTok right in the sights of US President Donald Trump (Korean TikTok users trolling his campaign rally probably didn’t help much either, via The Guardian).

Several accusations have been levied at ByteDance and other Chinese companies by Trump, with the US leader recently signing an executive order to ban dealings between them and US companies. 

The full extent of this ban remains to be seen but it has led to speculation around a potential acquisition of TikTok’s international operations by Microsoft. TikTok fans will have to wait and see how all this plays out to see how it affects their use of the smash-hit social video platform.


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