The rise of TikTok


Credit: Tommy Larson

Senior Class President Taylor Robin (left) and Leah McKirgan (right) film a TikTok in the senior lounge.



Walking through the senior lounge or freshman hallway, you may see students gathering around a phone, filming themselves hitting the clock woah or the milly rock, both of which are ‘TikTok dances. Hearing the word TikTok, many think of Kesha’s famous song TikTok, or of the sound of a clock, but almost anyone under the age of 20 are reminded of the up and coming app, TikTok.


According to Sensortower, a company that analyzes the app market, TikTok was the number one most downloaded app in the first quarter of 2019, with 188 million downloads and it has been downloaded upwards of 1.1 billion times since 2017.

Vine was a popular video-sharing app owned by Twitter that allowed users to share video clips limited to six seconds. Vine shut down in 2017 due to turbulent management, and an inability to keep up with competing platforms.

2017 was also the year TikTok was launched, and for consumers, TikTok is filling the void Vine left behind. Created by ByteDance, a Chinese tech company, TikTok allows users to share videos up to 15 seconds long, many of which are short comedic clips or popular dances. TikTok is meant for memeability, and the videos often poke fun at others or oneself. Advertisements are built into the for you page of TikTok, so the more time spent on the app, the more ads are watched and the more ad revenue TikTok receives. 

Where Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat are all used by some to communicate information in some way, TikTok use is purely lighthearted. “For me, it’s an escape from the world of politics and all that. TikTok is all about what’s funny,” Sophomore Mira Zaslow said .

While TikTok is certainly popular among Generation Z, surprisingly many established institutions also have accounts. The Washington Post and the New England Patriots, as well as the University of Florida, all have media campaigns on TikTok, with the goal of connecting to younger audiences.

These posts tend not to be as informative as on other social media sites, and instead play up the humor. While a Washington Post tweet may read “Security forces respond with gunfire to protests at Syrian detention camp” with a link to an article below, their TikTok features much lighter content like a staff member talking about running to get the free food in the staff kitchen.

The Washington Post hopes that this TikTok will end up on someone’s ‘for you page’: the never-ending stream of TikToks. This means that even if users don’t follow their page, their videos will be seen which will hopefully transfer to readers and subscribers.

While other social media feeds revolve around who the user follows, TikTok’s ‘for you’ page revolves around what an algorithm calculates the user will like based upon their likes, time spent watching a video, whether they send it to anyone, etc. But teenagers aren’t shying away from the algorithms that are constantly adjusting to what the app determines will keep users watching, and it’s working. This personalized endless video stream makes it easy to lose track of time on the app.

“It’s addictive because it’s easy to get into a loop of just one more, and then you just keep scrolling on the ‘for you’ page for hours,” said Junior Riley DeMatteo, an avid TikTokker. 

Thus begs the question: should The Dial get a TikTok?

Should the Dial create a TikTok

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