How TikTok Is Rewriting the World - Deepstash
How TikTok Is Rewriting the World

How TikTok Is Rewriting the World

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How TikTok Is Rewriting the World

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TikTok is reportedly 500 million users strong. It’s been a while since a new social app got big enough to make nonusers feel they’re missing out from an experience.

TikTok is an app for making and sharing short videos. For the Americans, it is one of the most popular of many short-video-sharing apps in that country. The videos are tall, and you navigate through videos by scrolling up and down, like a feed. You can follow and be followed. You can use it like any other social app.

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Video creators have all sorts of tools available.

  • Filters as on Snapchat.
  • The ability to search for sounds to score your video.
  • It provides extensive reasons and prompts.
  • Hashtags play a large role as a functional organizing principle. 
  • It nudges you and makes it easy to come up with material to post.
  • Users are encouraged to engage with other users in two ways: Through "response" videos and through "duets" where a user replicates a video and add themselves alongside.

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TikTok has stepped over the point between the familiar self-directed feed and experience based on algorithmic observation and inference. When you open the app, you don't see a feed of your friends, but a page called "For You" - It's an algorithmic feed based on videos you've interacted with or just watched.

It's not full of people you know or things you've explicitly told it you want to see. It is constantly learning from you and builds up a model of what you tend to watchIn short, it is like an Instagram centered entirely around its "Explore" tab.

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Content creation

The first step to showing your content on most social networks is building an audience or having lots of friends.

With TikTok, you can make stuff for your friends. But those looking for something to post are immediately recruited into group challenges, hashtags, or shown popular songs. The pool of content is enormous.

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TikTok is far from an evolutionary fluke. Its parent company, ByteDance, is first an artificial intelligence company, not a creator of mission-driven social platforms. It's content platforms enable people to enjoy content powered by AI technology, not humans.

The unintended consequences of these services are:

  • Isolating users into worlds of points of view - a sort of "filter bubble.
  • Capturing too much user time. TikTok's "Digital Wellbeing" settings include an option to enforce a password-protected time limit.

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