In a statement sent to Al Jazeera, a spokesperson defended the platform and its moderation practices "TikTok is built upon the foundation of creative expression, with strong safeguards in place to keep inappropriate content off the platform.” (Moon, 2021)
There is hardly anyone who uses the Internet, regardless of his age who hasn't heard of the Tiktok application. It has spread wisely and shortly became the number one application in the world of social media.
If this is the first time you hear about Tiktok, or if you are simply wondering about the secret behind the popularity of this app, we have got your back. Let us start first from the beginning.
So what is TikTok and how does it work?
Many people think that TikTok is only for musical videos. Users record lip-moving videos while dancing or acting on their favorite songs. TikTok is in fact a short video recording app, which started with a 15 seconds maximum duration, so anyone can record these videos using their phone. After that, the application promotes these videos to other users who follow this person.
TikTok videos can be anything ranging from funny short clips to parts of sports videos that you upload to the app, parts of lectures, or anything else. However, the most popular especially in the Arab world are ones displaying either famous musical videos or funny entertainment ones...
Because of the incredible popularity of TikTok and the large number of its users crossing the billion mark, the time for videos has been increased to 25 seconds in some regions, especially in America and Europe. With some influencers who enjoy a large number of followers it is different, they can upload videos from 60 seconds to a maximum of 5 minutes.
How did TikTok develop into what it is now?
TikTok went through several stages until it reached its current prominent situation in the social media world. There were many competitors for this application the closest of which was the Musically application.
As the number of users is highly increasing, a large number of adults (over 26 years old) have begun using the application in many countries of the world. Also, there is a lot of speculation about many add-ons to the application, perhaps the image posting feature and other features will be added. This can threaten the dominance of other applications such as Instagram and Pinterest.
What is the secret behind the spread of TikTok?
You might be the same as many people who wonder about the reasons behind the unprecedented spread of TikTok, especially among young people. Is it all in the innovative idea of short videos? Or perhaps is it the marketing that helped? Undoubtedly, marketing may assist in spreading the application, but it is not the secret behind this unprecedented success.
In fact, the secret lies in two features of the application:
1- How to display the videos
If you downloaded TikTok on your phone and opened any video, you will notice something strange that is not found in any other application: the video fills every corner of your phone screen unlike any video on YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. This is one of the most important factors for the success of TikTok. It makes the user spend as much time as possible on the application without any distraction. This in return makes him more and more engaged in the application and the quality of the videos he watches.
2- Dependence on artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence techniques have had a great impact on our daily lives in general. Moreover, in some fields, artificial intelligence has become almost everything. This is what the creators of TikTok rely on, as the algorithms that filter videos for users rely on artificial intelligence in an innovative way in social media applications. The application analyzes everything the user does on the application, and it relies on advanced algorithms to know the types of content he or she prefers very intelligently. Then, the application constantly filters the same quality of videos that the user prefers, and this makes him spend as much time as possible on the application.
This idea is applied in all social media applications, but TikTok is the most advanced and aggressive in this field, as the application does not care much about the people you follow or many other factors that are concerned with other applications. All what the application wants is to analyze the content you watch very accurately, whether from the subject of the video, or the music it contains, or the people, their gender, the colors in the video and other aspects. Therefore, it knows the videos you love very precisely while collecting more information with every video you watch thus improving its accuracy even more. This is the strongest reason behind the spread of TikTok among teenagers; it understands them well and provides them with the videos they love more than any other social media application.
There are also many reasons that helped the application to spread; such as relying on short music videos and relying on ads to promote the app. Nevertheless, these factors are not as strong as what I mentioned, and this is what other social media applications discovered. You may have noticed some modifications in these applications such as Facebook, which changed the way posts are displayed on phones recently. There is also a lot of news about modifying the video filtering algorithms on YouTube, all because of the great impact that TikTok has had and is still having on the social media platforms.
All of the above reasons were further enhanced by the mandatory worldwide lockdowns due to Covid19. People thus had a lot of free time in their hands. As a result, social media platforms were their outing.
Whether you are a Tiktok fanatic or not, one thing is for sure this application is here to stay.