Do you know TikTok has 500 million active users from all over the world which is two times more than the total population of Pakistan and even 200 million more than the total population of the United States?
Earlier this year during my summer vacation, I interned at the IBA chapter of TCF. There, I prepared students, who weren’t fortunate enough to have the same standards of living as us, for the university aptitude test. In the recess, students, aged 16-18, would go out of the class and have lunch. What caught my attention was that instead of having lunch, those students would make TikTok videos together around the campus. That’s when I was first introduced to the nation’s newest craze: the popular video app, Tiktok.
Tiktok is a social media video app where people can upload their lip-sync and comedy videos or videos showing off their natural talents and gifts. Through this app, many actors and app users have now become well-known names to the public. Internationally, young singer Jacob Sartorius is among the most followed accounts on TikTok. In Pakistan, Lahore Se Aagay’s controversial lead Yasir Hussain and Hasad’s Noor Hassan are regular users of the app. In Pakistan, the app has made it to the news several times since its launch.
In 2017, a Chinese company called ByteDance launched Tiktok. In 2018, it reached the pinnacle of popularity after being combined with Musical.ly, another renowned social media video app. It has now become a household name in Asia, particularly South Asia, where everyone from naïve children to elderly persons uses the app. However, its popularly isn’t limited to South Asia. In 2018, it became the most downloaded app in the United States.
The video app is available in over 150 countries of the world and is more popular than apps like Linkedin, Snapchat, Twitter and even PUBG. Most of the app users are about 16 to 24 years old. Although, now that the users are growing the elderly are joining in as well. Pakistan ranks at number 7 in the list of the countries with most TikTok users. Over 11.8 million Pakistanis use the app.
Tiktok has sparked many controversies throughout the country. Some months ago, there were even reports that the government was about to ban the app throughout the country. A most recent one of these controversies is the Hareem Shah scandal. Hareem Shah is a TikTok influencer who made it to the national news when a video of her at the foreign office went viral. After the first video, her lavish lifestyle came to headlines. Before this, a young TikTok user named Daniyal Khan died in September. He had more than 200k followers on the video-sharing app.
Popular trending topics make it to the explore page of the app. Many hashtags and challenges have done so. Such as pose challenge in which people pose when they dance to a particular song, lip glue challenge made people glue their lips, and the most famous bottle cap challenge in which people had to unscrew the cap of the bottle with a single kick. Many celebrities also attempted this challenge including singer Justin Bieber, model Kendall Jenner, and Game of Thrones actress Sophie Turner. In June 2019, the app started investing in educational content through its program, EduTok.
Tiktok is the country’s new fad but we can’t say how long it will go on. Previously, there have been apps that had the same features but were short-lived. Dubsmash and Musical.ly are some of them. Nowadays, PUBG and Youtube are among the other trending apps in the country. However, on TikTok, users don’t earn directly like YouTube. But they can earn through sponsorships. Brands usually give sponsorships to users with a large number of followers.
Right now, we can’t say if TikTok is just a craze or unlike its predecessors it will be successful in making its mark. Now that it’s creating educational content, the app now seems to own a chance at creating a long-lasting impact.