It’s True, GenZ Loves TikTok

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There are several differences between the 20th and 21st century, and social media is definitely high on the list. The early 2000s witnessed the creation of platforms like MySpace and LinkedIn, which inspired the rise of other social networking sites. Facebook came out in 2004, and Youtube made its debut just one year later. Since then, we’ve seen several platforms revolutionize instant communication. Now, 2 in 5 people are on social media, spending around 2.5 hours on it daily. Whether it’s uploading a video with friends or keeping up with President Trump’s tweets, social media ensures we stay connected. 

Flash forward to 2020, and a new platform has taken over: TikTok. A merge between two widely popular apps (Douyin and Musical.ly), TikTok came to the United States in late 2017. Although the app now has 800 million users, it can be quite controversial. I, for one, refused to download TikTok for months because I feared “falling into the trap.” However, pure boredom during quarantine changed my mind. And I’m not alone among my peers. Unlike Facebook, Instagram, and others, TikTok’s rise can be attributed to GenZ. In fact, over 40% of TikTok users are between the ages of 16 and 24, and 90% of users check the app multiple times per day.

So why do we like it so much?

For starters, TikTok’s algorithm caters content to your specific preferences. Whether you enjoy singing, dancing, comedy, sports, baking, or anything else, there are always videos waiting for you. For example, when I open TikTok, I immediately see videos about my favorite TV shows, funny twitter posts, and my many celebrity crushes. Many of these videos are posted by prominent influencers — such as Charli D’Amelio and Addison Rae, who both have over 50 million followers. That’s another reason why TikTok is so appealing; it’s the easiest platform to go viral on. Even my dance teacher, Michael Le, has been launched into stardom. I first met him in 2017, and now he has over 36 million followers! TikTok has allowed Michael to move to LA, buy a house on his own, and support his family. 

The main reason we are drawn to the app, however, is its emphasis on creativity. We can make videos about truly anything. Recent trends include couples swapping clothes and making fun of Lin-Manuel Miranda. Additionally, there are constantly new viral dances that users can try.

What’s the ban all about?

For the past month, however, TikTok has been under fire. The controversy stems from various governments questioning China’s role in the platform’s growth. Some say the government is using data for surveillance, threatening global Internet freedom. That’s why countries like India, for example, have completely banned the app. Now, the United States government is skeptical of TikTok’s intentions; President Trump wants to outlaw it. 

But, how would American GenZ-ers react to a TikTok ban? Simply stated, not well. A few weeks ago, for example, a glitch in TikTok servers that removed all videos’ likes and views caught users by surprise. While it only lasted around 30 minutes, millions of “For You” pages became filled with TikTok farewell videos and petitions to keep the app available. 

The situation escalated quickly. President Trump claimed he would ban Tik Tok as early as Saturday August 1, wrecking havoc across the Tik Tok community. Influencers’ pages became flooded with attempts to relocate their followers to Instagram, Youtube, etc. Fortunately for them, nothing happened on Saturday. As of now, President Trump’s executive order takes place in 45 days.

However, this is just one piece of the puzzle. Massive tech companies see TikTok’s market as valuable. Specifically, Microsoft wants to acquire TikTok in order to become a major player in the social media industry. Ultimately, no one knows what this would look like. Would the US government approve? Would there be Chinese backlash? Would Microsoft know how to maintain TikTok’s popularity?

And Microsoft isn’t the only company interested in winning over TikTok’s audience. On August 5th, Instagram launched Reels — essentially a TikTok 2.0 — in over 50 countries. But will Instagram face controversy for copying TikTok? Would TikTok users and influencers switch over to Reels?

The latter is more uncertain. That’s because GenZ has built a TikTok community — especially during quarantine. I have experienced this first hand. Since March, I have been taking social distancing very seriously, and it’s hard to stay entertained at home as an only child. I have TikTok to thank for keeping me connected to my closest friends and providing me with strangers’ entertaining content. While I never would have wanted to admit this back in February, I have “fallen into the trap,” and overall, I think TikTok’s benefits outweigh its harms. So, if this espionage situation escalates, can the government at least hold off the ban until this global pandemic ends?

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