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TikTok is a video sharing platform having a twist. Videos can be no longer than just a few seconds and they are based upon various themes: music, cooking, travel, dance, fashion, and so on. Users create these short videos, use simple tools to add music and effects, and share them on the site. The most common clips are high on entertainment value, with a premium on instant gratification. Comparable to Vine, which turn off in 2016, TikTok can be thought of as a video version of Instagram or Snapchat.

TikTok originates from China, but, interestingly, it is really not owned by among the Chinese tech giants. Despite massive investments in video platforms by the likes of Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, none dominates this area. TikTok – known locally as Douyin – was introduced in 2016 by ByteDance, a Beijing-based tech company traditionally centered on news. Its news app, called Toutiao, uses advanced AI algorithms that learn user preferences, then provides customised news feeds. Bytedance uses exactly the same algorithms to offer relevant video feeds to TikTok users.

By the beginning of 2017, Douyin had become China’s most popular Likes Fans And Followers. In November the exact same year, ByteDance spent US$1 billion to acquire a competing video sharing site called Musical.ly. While Musical.ly was also founded in China, the majority of its users were located in the US. The combined global reach of TikTok and Musical.ly created for a powerful combination.

Even though many social networking applications concentrate on global consistency and reach, TikTok dedicated to targeting specific local audiences. For example, in Japan, TikTok collaborated with a large artist management company to drive traffic from YouTube and Instagram using watermarked TikTok videos created by local celebrities. In addition, it ran a series of dancing and music campaigns focused on overcoming shyness, a problem for most young adults in Japan.

Challenges are one of the important elements of TikTok. They are video skits that will get acted on masse, with folks creating various responses to your popular meme. A recently available one involved gummy bears singing an Adele song, which got 1.7m likes on TikTok, went viral on Twitter and spawned numerous spinoffs.

The app continues to be growing steadily since it acquired its U.S.-based rival Musical.ly in November 2017 for north of $800 million, then merged the two apps’ user bases last August. This gave TikTok the way to grow in Western markets, where it has attracted the interest of U.S. celebrities like Jimmy Fallon and Tony Hawk, as an example, together with YouTubers on the ffyytx for the upcoming new thing.

Instead, its main feed often surfaces everyday users – aka, amateurs – doing something cute, funny or clever, using a tacit acknowledgement that “yes, it becomes an internet joke” underlying much of the content.

But that’s because individuals trying to discuss TikTok are old(er) individuals who matured on the big ol’ mean internet. Cringey, frankly, is definitely an unfair label, because it dismisses TikTok’s success in setting a tone for its community. Here, users will frequently post and share unapologetically wholesome content, and receive less mocking than elsewhere on the web – largely because all others on TikTok posts similar “cringey” content, too.

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