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TikTok is a video sharing platform having a twist. Videos can be no longer than 15 seconds plus they are based upon various themes: music, cooking, travel, dance, fashion, and so forth. Users create these short videos, use simple tools to incorporate music and special effects, and share them on the site. The most famous clips are high on entertainment value, having a premium on instant gratification. Comparable to Vine, which turn off in 2016, TikTok can be looked at as a youtube video version of Instagram or Snapchat.

TikTok comes from China, but, interestingly, it is really not belonging to one of the Chinese tech giants. Despite massive investments in video platforms through the likes of Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu, none of them dominates this region. TikTok – known locally as Douyin – was launched 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 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 founded in China, most of its users were based in the US. The combined global reach of TikTok and Musical.ly made for an effective combination.

While many social media marketing applications focus on global consistency and reach, TikTok centered on targeting specific local audiences. For instance, in Japan, TikTok collaborated using a large artist management company to get traffic from YouTube and Instagram using watermarked TikTok videos created by local celebrities. Additionally, it ran a series of dancing and music campaigns dedicated to overcoming shyness, a problem for most young people in Japan.

Challenges are some of the important elements of TikTok. They are video skits that get acted on masse, with folks creating various responses to some 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 as it acquired its U.S.-based rival Musical.ly in November 2017 for north of $800 million, then merged the 2 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, for instance, together with YouTubers on the ffyytx for the following new thing.

Instead, its main feed often surfaces everyday users – aka, amateurs – doing something cute, funny or clever, with a tacit acknowledgement that “yes, it is really an internet joke” underlying a lot of the information.

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

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