Dance videos or opinion-forming? After Trump’s failed campaign appearance in Tulsa, the question arises again: How political is Tiktok? What influence does the social network have on public debates?
Download the app, watch short videos – you can do that without logging into the Tiktok social media platform. The first videos that come to your eyes always show the same dances to pop hits and funny lip-sync gags. But if you spend more than five minutes with the app, you can see a lot of queer and transpositive clips, videos of the # Blacklivesmatter movement and statements against the AfD and Donald Trump. Recently, parts of the Tiktok community are said to have made an election campaign appearance of the US President absurd. How political is the platform, which is decried as a ridiculous pastime of Generation Z?
Tiktok has managed to break the one billion user mark faster than any other social media platform. For some time now, the network of the Chinese developer Bytedance has been a serious competitor to Facebook, Instagram and Co. It is not surprising that Tiktok has managed to combine the most successful features of various digital applications: Tinder’s thumb wiping, the random factor by Chatroulette and the imaginative video production by Snapchat. Even the Tagesschau has its own account on Tiktok.
But How Socially Relevant Is The Content On Tiktok Really?
“Our mission is to enrich and inspire people’s lives by being a home for the creativity of our users and offering them an authentic, joyful, and positive experience.” This is how the company describes the purpose of its platform. That doesn’t sound like a point of contact for critical opinion.
However, if you analyze more precisely what is played and accessed on Tiktok, a different picture quickly emerges. In fact, countless of the 15 to 60 second clips are in the context of public debates: sometimes more, sometimes less serious. Videos with the hashtag #trump were viewed 3.3 billion times on Tiktok. Discussions about the American president are firmly established on the social media platform. For comparison: the hashtag #tiktokdance with 5.1 billion hits has significantly more consumers, but the comparison of the two trends shows how widespread political content has become on the platform.
It, therefore, seems quite conceivable that Tiktok users could have made Trump’s campaign appearance in Tulsa an embarrassing event for the president. It is said that fans of Korean pop music, or K-pop for short, called on Tiktok to reserve tickets for the campaign event – and did not go there in the end. Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale had happily announced on Twitter that over a million tickets had been reserved for the performance – in the end, however, Trump spoke in half-empty seats. Only around 6,200 visitors were said to have been there.
Young People Come Out On Tiktok
Tiktok is not the only place to hold debates about the United States’ presidential campaign. Also trendy: the hashtag #ImComingOut. A total of 59.5 million users posted a contribution to this marker in order to come out as queer. In view of international developments, this can also be seen as a political statement. Poland is currently criticized for having set up LGBT-free zones, and hatred and agitation against homosexuals are also part of everyday life in Russia. Not to mention that discrimination against queer people is still widespread in Germany and other western countries.
It cannot be said in general that almost all Tiktok users act politically in one way or another. There are no concrete figures on how much of the content on Tiktok can be considered political. Tiktok announced that it would generally not track how much political content was played over the network. There is data on which hashtags are currently in trend – which can also be viewed by the user – but what this includes political opinion is not monitored.
The top hashtag is currently #blacklivesmatter. Tiktok confirmed this on request. Videos of the # Blacklivesmatter movement was viewed a total of 13.3 billion times. This makes videos about the racism debate the most-watched clips in the app.