Haven’t heard of TikTok? And no, it’s not Ke$ha’s hit 2009 single. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, TikTok is the latest ‘it’ app to hit smartphones. Last year it was the world’s most downloaded app, beating the likes of Instagram and Snapchat and it already has over 1 billion users around the world, so yeah, it’s a pretty big deal. But the app has recently caused controversy and has been banned in several countries like Bangladesh and Indonesia and most recently, India. We’ve got everything you need to know…
What is TikTok?
Previously known as musical.ly, the app allows users to create, share and watch short clips of themselves lip-syncing and dancing to their favourite songs, performing short comedy skits (like Vine RIP) or participating in challenges; users can also add face filters, stickers and effects to their videos as well as live editing. It’s taken the internet by storm and is especially popular among kids and teens, some of the most popular content creators have millions of followers and there are even TikTok influencers like Lisa and Lena Mantler.
Why is it in the news?
TikTok has come under fire in the past for hosting inappropriate content and encouraging paedophiles and pornography and has already been banned in Bangladesh and Indonesia as part of a crackdown on internet pornography. The app is very popular among young children and teenagers and a lack of privacy settings led to concerns that children could have their identities exposed if they posted videos in their school uniform for example. It has also received criticism over explicit challenges which circulate on the app, like the #takeitoff challenge which featured young girls removing their tops – given the young demographic, we can see the reason for concern.
In February, the app was given a record fine of $5.7 million in America over it’s handling of children’s data – apparently, they had allowed content from underage users to be on the app. In April the Madras High Court in India ordered for the apps removal from app stores over concerns it was being used to spread pornography despite having already removed over 6 million videos which violated its user guidelines. Earlier in April, a man was allegedly shot dead by a friend as they posed with a pistol to make a video for TikTok when the homemade gun accidentally went off. The app has since been removed from the Google Play and Apple App Stores in India.
But there’s no sign of the app being banned in the UK, so we can still lipsync to our heart’s content, for now…