The rise of TikTok

Lockdowns and quarantines have taken their toll on all of us – on some people more, on some people less. In the beginning, some people started doing home workouts like crazy just to give up on them the very next week. Others, apparently, got keen on cooking and baking but, eventually, they only made banana bread once in a while instead of further developing this hobby. And then, there were people, including myself, who downloaded an app out of self-isolation and boredom – an app that had been, at first, so passionately despised! The app, we tried so hard to avoid, suddenly takes up most of our screen time per day. So, what’s happening here?

Why is TikTok becoming so popular?

TikTok is a Chinese video-sharing social networking service owned by the company ByteDance. In China, it is also known as Douyin and the platform is used by tiktokers who make a variety of short videos that aren’t longer than 3 minutes. It became globally available in 2018 after merging with the lip-syncing app Musical.ly, which had already been quite popular among teenagers before.

Since then, TikTok has been downloaded 2 billion times on the App Store and Google Play and a whopping 90% of tiktokers use the app multiple times during the day. The company targets especially Gen Z (people that are born between 1997 and 2012) and this generation will tell you that TikTok is a whole new subculture.

However, as social media becomes gradually involved in our daily life, statistics show that more and more adults, especially Millennials (people that are born between 1981 and 1996), find the app for themselves. If you ask them about TikTok they either hate it or they have a burning passion for it and here is why: a lot of Millennials still associate TikTok with Musical.ly. While you could mainly find videos of underaged teenagers lip-syncing and dancing to pop songs on Musical.ly, TikTok developed a wider range of content, including lifestyle and most importantly comedy.

What you will mainly find on TikTok: Trends and inside jokes also known as memes

TikTok makes you feel like you are a part of something big and if you don’t participate in this platform, you will have the feeling of missing out on something. The difference between TikTok and other social media apps like Instagram or Twitter is significant. While users on Instagram and co follow and consume content of certain people with no fixed algorithms, TikTok is more like an engine that uses your interaction data to automatically show you what you want without having to follow anybody. The engagement among users is high and the content never ends. It’s like an artificial intelligence which is highly personalised, and it tells you: “You should watch this, I know you’ll like it” – and it is almost guaranteed that you will.

Watching a two-hour long movie? No. Spending 3 hours on TikTok? Yes.

While it sounds great to be flooded with new, refreshing content and no boredom in sight, TikTok has also faced many problems: allegations of a failing data protection system, cyber mobbing, no protection of minors and it censors content that is considered sensitive by the Chinese government. It got to the point where the U.S. feared that the app is being used for espionage and, thus, poses a national security risk. On August 2020, Donald Trump even tried to ban TikTok in the U.S. All in all, it can be said that if TikTok remains government approved in most countries, its future will stay bright and its community will keep on growing.

Author: Judith Pütz

eMAG’s Facebook dilemma

So, turns out Facebook might be a shady company. I know. Who’da thunk? While private users have begun to jump ship or at the very least to post memes about Mark Zuckerberg’s peculiar way to drink water, public pages – like eMAG – are having to make a pretty tough decision.

Yet another Facebook scandal

Alright, let’s start with a very brief, by no means, complete summary. Facebook is collecting user data, and this goes quite a bit deeper than what some people like to admit. Call logs, contact lists, even where people live. Pretty useful stuff, one might say. Would come in handy if you were to – oh, I don’t know – create ads to sway people’s opinion on stuff like the 2016 Brexit vote or certain presidential candidates in the US. Well, Cambridge Analytica found a way to collect this data and sold it to customers who in turn used it for… You can do the math. Of course, Mark Zuckerberg distanced himself from these practices in the senate hearing last month, but whether his company will change its data-guzzling ways is more than doubtful.

The convenience of networks

And this is where we all come in, actively this time. The development of Facebook’s user base hasn’t really changed all that much following the latest scandal, but a number of influential personalities have openly encouraged people to delete their account, for example Elon Musk, the CEO of Tesla and Space X. So there is at least a chance that the already sub-optimal public opinion about Facebook could lead to people leaving. The problem is, where to?

You see, people have been concerned about Facebook for a long time, but we’re all so invested in its ecosystem that moving on from it seems like a huge step. You’d have to find services that can do everything you’ve found in Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram. And ideally, they should have a user base as all-encompassing as these apps, too. Facebook is all about being convenient. Looking for capable alternatives and convincing your family, friends and colleagues to actually use them is anything but that.

Ties that bind

For eMAG the issue is similar, but with a slight twist. For us Facebook’s massive reach means that we can use those existing networks to get word going when we have a promotion event, a new article ready, or our latest issue around the corner. People who are interested share it and all of a sudden 200 people most of our team members have never seen know our release date. That’s just neat! But doesn’t that also mean that we encourage people to stick around on a platform that has done enough shady stuff to deserve being shunned indefinitely?

We’re not pretending that we’re as big as Kanye, but this definitely is a problem that every influencer and page administrator on Facebook needs to be aware of. If you use Facebook for promotion, you bind people to that system and it’s gotten really tough to justify that now.

To leave or not to leave…

So, this is where we’re at. If we quit Facebook, we take the moral high ground. We also throw away most of the promotion work we’ve done since the magazine’s inception. If we stay, we are able to reach a modest, but ever-growing number of readers and can hope to reach people outside the campus on a regular basis.

If you know of any alternatives, please drop us a line, through Facebook, if need be. Every social network has to start with just a handful of users. Maybe you are one of them. We’re definitely open for a service that respects its users.

Text & Picture: Andreas Böhm