TikTok's success and controversies

TikTok is the app of the moment. Let's see some details of its operation to understand its success.

Mobile with the Tik Tok application

Tik tok has become one of the most important social networks. / Photo: Unsplash - Kom Karampelas

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Rodríguez

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Leer en español: Las claves del éxito y las controversias de TikTok

From one moment to the next, TikTok flooded the internet with different funny videos. Of course, for those who are still getting used to Instagram or Twitter they may not understand exactly what it is about. According to El Mundo, it is an ideal application for young people that is used to create short videos.

In full isolation from the coronavirus, we see that this service began to become very popular, filling internet with videos from the platform that are also shared on other social networks, such as Instagram or Facebook. For example, we saw that the Milenio website comments that Maluma was trending for releasing a choreography through that network.

However, many people still don't know what the success is about. Therefore, we decided to investigate to understand what is the mechanism that governs this addictive platform, which comes to revolutionize the way we consume online content.

How does TikTok work?

First of all, we see that TikTok proposes a completely new format that other services did not have. This is why we see that, according to the media Filo News and Xataka Móvil, both Facebook and YouTube will create their own short video service, known as Lasso and Shorts, respectively.

This implies that there is a way that attracts users, since it is a “need” that other social networks are not being able to satisfy. That is, the TikTok system itself became popular at a time when people have plenty of time to get in front of a camera and shoot pre-defined funny videos, without the need for editing skills.

Another point of vital importance is understanding the large number of people who downloaded the application to view content. It is not necessary to register to see other people's videos, so we can simply try it out for fun and time.

Even, according to what the Univision News website mentions, this service achieved a record number of downloads during the coronavirus. Currently 1,500 million downloads have been achieved throughout the planet, with 500 million monthly active users, exceeding 330 million on Twitter.

Unlike other services, we do not need to have "friends" to recommend content that we like. The start is really intuitive and personalized, since the category of the videos that will appear will be assigned to us according to a controversial algorithm.

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For example, the Infobae website mentions that the app has a limited scope for people with disabilities. The reason? Prevent some users from making fun of them. This is controversial to the point where a debate arises: how far does the entertainment limit go?

However, it seems that TikTok goes a little beyond disabilities, having a display system that also affects people with obesity, to cite an example, the moderators themselves join the algorithm to tag people in certain profiles, limiting the exposure of different accounts that do not meet a certain criterion.

Therefore, a video with certain physical features, such as deformations, would only enter a "Risk 4" phase, which would allow visibility on a national, but not international, scale, in such a way that cyberbullying is avoided.

Thus, the key to TikTok's success lies in that we just see what we like to see, because the algorithm - and the moderators themselves - understand what we want to have at Start. That is, here we do not have content from known people, but the system understands our tastes based on visualizations.

At the same time, if we are content producers, the process will always guarantee us a minimum audience, since this works by categories and not by contacts, which will encourage us to continue producing material, although achieving a lot of exposure. If the minimum user barrier is overcome, it will begin to expand to an ever-increasing number of users, so the “addiction” is for both those who watch and those who create.


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