role of TikTok in protests and media

“TikTok is to Black Lives Matter what Twitter was to the Arab Spring,” said Kareem Rahma, 34, a TikTok creator with nearly 400,000 followers on the app. Mr. Rahma’s TikToks from the Black Lives Matter protests in Minneapolis garnered tens of millions of views. “I saw a lot of youth on the ground TikToking the protests as opposed to livestreaming, tweeting or Instagramming,” he said. “The conversations these kids are having with each other are essential.”

In June, teenage TikTok users claimed responsibility for inflating attendance expectations, leading to rows upon rows of empty seats, for Mr. Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Okla., after thousands of them registered for tickets to the event that they had no plans to redeem.

TikTok users have also waged coordinated campaigns to rate Mr. Trump’s businesses poorly on Google, to spam online surveys aimed at Trump supporters with useless information and to damage the Trump campaign’s e-commerce store by collecting in their shopping baskets items they never intend to buy.

Ellie Zeiler, 16, who has 6.3 million followers on TikTok, said that Mr. Trump’s threat to ban the app may even sway more young people to vote against him. “I think that a lot of people didn’t like Trump before, and this has driven people to not like him even more,” she said.

“For many kids, politics feel very distant,” said Eitan Bernath, 18, who has 1.2 million followers on TikTok. “This might be the first time it hits home for a lot of kids.”

On Sunday, nine TikTok creators with a collective 54 million followers, including Brittany Broski, Hope Schwing and Mitchell Crawford, published an open letter addressed to Mr. Trump on Medium.

“TikTok has enabled the kinds of interactions that could never take place on the likes of Facebook and Instagram,” they wrote. “Our generation has grown up on the internet, but our vision of the internet is going to require more than two gatekeepers. Why not use this as an opportunity to level the playing field?” they urged.

Vanessa Pappas, the general manager of TikTok North America, attempted to quell concerns on Saturday. “We’re not planning on going anywhere,” she said in a statement released on the app.

 

If the app’s potential shutdown or instability around a sudden sale has any silver lining, it’s a flood of new users to smaller platforms. Clash, a new short-form video app founded by Brendon McNerney, a former Vine star, became available on Friday night after the news and shot up the app store rankings on Saturday. Byte and Dubsmash, two other short form video apps, have also begun actively recruiting TikTok stars.

Last Wednesday, Triller, an app that functions similarly to TikTok, announced it had hired the 18-year-old TikTok star Josh Richards as the platform’s chief strategy officer, and successfully wooed Mr. Richards along with two other large TikTok stars, Griffin Johnson, 21, and Noah Beck, 19, to join the platform as investors.

Instagram is also offering TikTok creators deals of hundreds of thousands of dollars to create content on Reels, its new product with similarities, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Perez Hilton, a longtime celebrity news chronicler who has amassed 850,000 followers on TikTok, said he hoped that just the threat of a ban would serve as a note of caution for the young talent on the app. “These influencers on TikTok can’t have all their eggs in one basket,” he said. “You have to be everywhere,” he said, if you want to stay famous.

“You need to hustle,” he said. “A lot of the TikTokers that are just pretty, those are the ones that are really going to struggle. Pretty doesn’t age well and it doesn’t translate. The ones that are willing to work on and off TikTok and other platforms, they’re the ones that will be able to continue to thrive.”

 

Instagram is also offering TikTok creators deals of hundreds of thousands of dollars to create content on Reels, its new product with similarities, according to The Wall Street Journal.

 

 

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