Internet

TikTok turns one: When one year lapses into 30 seconds...

Though many consider the platform to be infantile for reasons other than age, there’s a huge power play on this diverse platform for creators

Five years ago, if we told our friends that we could be famous for making short and stylised videos and become internationally famous, our friends would probably question our mindsets and priorities. Well, TikTok having just turned a year old is the culmination of various short-video movements (remember Vine?) and its creators are saying the platform won’t suffer the same curses its counterparts have.

But such a platform doesn’t come without its glitches — and we aren’t talking about the ones of a software nature. The Internet is great at fuelling offline battles as well. TikTok was no different; the platform was the centre of a November 2018 fight between two groups in Malappuram, Kerala, resulting in eight people being injured over the then-viral Nillu Nillu Challenge.

The following months until April saw netizens misusing the platform, often losing their lives. Even worries around child pornography were raised and the Madras High Court stepped in to order a ban on the app across the country. On April 17, the Supreme Court’s order on the ban took effect and the app was removed from Apple and Android app stores. But barely a week later, the ban is revoked on the conditions of strict community guidelines. Talk about a bounce-back.

Watch | TikTok turns one

Perspective matters

Like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, those under 13 years of age aren’t permitted to use the app (we don’t see much of this rule being actively followed across these sites) and the platform has a strict censor as “not being a place for graphic, violent, shocking, or sensational content.”

Challenges galore
  • Here are some of the prominent trends on TikTok
  • #CleanIndia: Launched in partnership with Bhumi, a campaign that promotes the government mission of Swachh Bharat and encourages users to post before and after pictures of their contribution to a cleaner India.
  • #SkillsIndia: Launched in partnership with NSDC, a campaign that invites youth to share their skills and talent on TikTok.
  • #EduTok: One of the most popular campaigns, that encourages users to create content around various themes, with a focus on education, motivation, health and wellness.

How are these strict guidelines implemented, you ask? Sachin Sharma, director of sales and partnerships at TikTok India, says, “TikTok has put in place protective measures by combining content moderation technology with a robust human moderation team. This team, which is based in over 20 countries and regions, now covers 36 languages, an increase of 400% in terms of language support from one year ago. In India, the moderation team covers 15 major Indian languages, including Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Bengali, Gujarati and more.”

“We have a robust localisation strategy to encourage users to create content relevant to their local cultures. Some of our top creators are the ones sharing content and skills that help add value to a user’s life,” Sachin points out, “Be it Sangeeta Jain, known as Geet on TikTok, who teaches English and gives relationship advice, or Tamil TechGuruji who shares tech advice in Tamil in short videos on TikTok. There are many more such examples of creators who are leveraging the platform for the larger good of the society.”

So what do the creators say? Motivational speaker Awal TsMadaan teaches English through TikTok and has approximately five million followers on the platform. He is also well-known on YouTube with over 7.6 million subscribers. “There is an interesting concept of sales,” he points out, “and it is considered to be a good thing for extroverts. But social media’s digital economy empowers all the introverts to come forward too as well. That is when brands offer partnerships and a new form of storytelling emerges.” He adds TikTok has appealed to Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities on a scale which other short-video platforms couldn’t do before; there’s no requirement for a high-end smartphone with a fantastic camera or a full-on set-up with lights and multiple camera angles.

TikTok turns one: When one year lapses into 30 seconds...

Awal is one of many who consider TikTok to be ‘revolutionary’, but like any digital space, the action of trolling is ubiquitous. Sachin lays out, “In India, TikTok partnered with the Cyber Peace Foundation, an award-winning NGO and global think-tank of cyber-security and policy experts, to promote online safety. As a part of this campaign, they launched 11 posters that illustrated and educated internet users on various aspects of online safety.”

But Awal, as a creator, does see there is a responsibility across creators, followers and TikTok itself. As with any democratic space, it is a combination of self-regulation and intervention from the platform to keep things afloat… after all, as mentioned before, TikTok is still under a watchful eye. During the lockdown earlier this year, Awal recalled the controversies across all platforms. “Every platform has its own phases of evolution, and a platform is considered a great platform when it proactively takes action,” he observes. “My gut feeling was that it would subside soon, because I’d seen that proactiveness over time,” he states.

As TikTok blows out this candle, it looks like they’ve done what some of their creators feel is needed to keep things moving. But the shelf-life is still young.

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Printable version | Mar 31, 2020 9:25:09 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/internet/tiktok-turns-one-year-old-when-one-year-lapses-into-30-seconds/article29020634.ece

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