TikTok will survive Donald Trump, US users say

In early August, Donald Trump signed an executive order to force China’s ByteDance group to sell or spin off the platform to an American company in the name of an alleged threat to “national security” by TikTok.
Many of TikTok’s creators and influencers say they will migrate to rival platform.(Reuters File Photo)
Many of TikTok’s creators and influencers say they will migrate to rival platform.(Reuters File Photo)
Updated on Sep 28, 2020 12:42 AM IST
Copy Link
Washington | ByAgence France-Presse | Posted by Kanishka Sarkar

“I never thought I would have a voice, but this app has given me one and people have been listening,” said Rebecca Fisher-Tringale, explaining her love for social network TikTok, adding, “I never thought it would be possible.”

The aspiring political scientist said she has no doubt TikTok will survive -- despite the Sword of Damocles that President Donald Trump has been dangling above the social network.

Under her screen name @theprogressivepolicy, Fisher-Tringale comments on current events several times a day in short videos lambasting Trump for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic or his immigration policies.

In early August, the president signed an executive order to force China’s ByteDance group to sell or spin off the platform to an American company in the name of an alleged threat to “national security” by TikTok.

Trump has claimed, without giving evidence, that Beijing can use the hugely popular app to spy on Americans.

But Fisher-Tringale shrugs this off; she is not overly worried about TikTok’s survival, despite its importance in her life.

“I joined the app kind of as a joke in 2019 to watch videos and be entertained,” she said. “Then I started to make videos about my dog, then I made one about Trump, and it blew up,” she told AFP from her house-share in Boone, North Carolina.

With more than 80,000 followers, the 21-year-old college student said she hopes to bring “different perspectives” to young people of all backgrounds, many of them not yet of voting age.

“So many people have texted me saying we wouldn’t be involved in politics if it wasn’t for you,” she added.

A viral rebellion

In one of her most viral episodes, Fisher-Tringale posted an ironic quiz for those who push back against anti-racist “Black Lives Matter” protesters by insisting that “All Lives Matter.”

“Who was brought to America in chains at the bottom of ships?” she asked, before offering these options: “A. Black Lives; B. All Lives.”

In June, she joined thousands of other TikTok users in registering online to attend a Trump rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma -- while planning all along not to go.

The rows of empty seats seen in the televised event represented a humiliating setback for the Republican candidate’s campaign, but a source of pride for young TikTok’ers.

“I think it made him angry,” Fisher-Tringale said of Trump; she believes that partly explains his antipathy to the platform.

TikTok, which went global in 2018, is completely separate from its Chinese version, Douyin, which serves only the Chinese market. It now has some 100 million monthly users in the United States, half of them using the app every day, according to company data.

It has built its rapid success on its format -- parodies, messages and dance or comedy performances of 15 to 60 seconds, set against popular music -- along with an algorithm that determines which content is most likely to interest each user.

“There’s that virality component that TikTok has been able to take over, better than Facebook and Instagram,” said Saadia Mirza, who owns a marketing agency in Houston, Texas.

“What Trump doesn’t like is this virality component, and that he can’t control the narrative on TikTok -- it’s something he doesn’t understand, so he’s afraid of it.”

A question of priorities

Mirza turned to TikTok early in the coronavirus pandemic -- out of boredom, she says. She quickly recognized its potential and began posting political videos, urging fellow users to vote or explaining public policies while playing popular songs.

Her motivation?

“The wonderful thing is seeing young people or even my age group sharing ideas,” said the thirty-something Mirza. “I’m learning from other people.”

After a series of diplomatic twists, and despite negotiations involving several companies, the network -- which now has some 700 million monthly users worldwide -- could disappear from the US if Washington and Beijing, along with concerned companies, fail to reach agreement.

Many of TikTok’s creators and influencers say they will migrate to rival platforms -- like Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and Triller -- if need be.

But, said nanny and part-time stand-up comedian Brittany Tilander, “I don’t think anything’s gonna happen with TikTok. I don’t think it’s going anywhere.”

The 29-year-old from Kansas City has taken her humor to TikTok since the pandemic prevented her from appearing on stage.

She, Fisher-Tringale and Mirza say they think the president’s position on TikTok will not stand; that other US institutions will protect the platform where they feel most free to express their opinions.

Trump, said Tilander, is attacking the app as “a really nice distraction” from what she says is his poor job handling other issues.

“With the pandemic going on, the wildfires, unemployment as high as it is, the civil rights movement -- in an election year (TikTok) should be really low on his priorities,” she said.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • UK PM Boris Johnson fires ally and digs in despite calls to quit

    UK PM Boris Johnson fires ally and digs in despite calls to quit

    Britain's scandal-hit Prime Minister Boris Johnson attempted a rearguard offensive late Wednesday against a cabinet and Conservative party revolt, firing a top ally and vowing to "fight on" despite dozens of his ministers resigning. The dismissal from the cabinet of "levelling up" secretary Michael Gove -- Johnson's right-hand-man in Britain's 2016 Brexit referendum campaign -- dramatically showed that the Conservative leader was not going to bow out without a fight.

  • In parting blow, Javid attacks PM’s leadership style

    In parting blow, Javid attacks PM’s leadership style

    Former British minister Sajid Javid delivered a withering attack on Boris Johnson's leadership on Wednesday, telling him and his fellow lawmakers in their ruling Conservative Party that it was time for the prime minister to resign. Javid stepped down as health minister on Tuesday, the first of a flurry of resignations of ministers who said they had lost confidence in Johnson and that he was not fit to govern.

  • At least six people were killed and around 30 wounded on July 4 when a gunman opened fire from a rooftop at a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park.

    US July 4 parade shooting suspect contemplated 2nd shooting: Police

    The man charged with killing seven people at an Independence Day parade confessed to police that he unleashed a hail of bullets from a rooftop in suburban Chicago and then fled to the Madison, Wisconsin, area, where he contemplated shooting up an event there, authorities said Wednesday. The parade shooting left another American community reeling — this time affluent Highland Park, home to about 30,000 people near the Lake Michigan shore.

  • People participate in a candle march on the death anniversary of social activist Father Stan Swamy, in Kolkata, India on Tuesday. (PTI)

    Stan Swamy death: US Congressman asks India to set up independent investigation

    On the first anniversary of the death of Father Stan Swamy, the Jesuit priest accused in the Bhima Koregaon/Elgar Parishad case who died in custody, a United States (US) Congressman has introduced a resolution in the House of Representatives commemorating Swamy's life and demanding that the Government of India set up an independent investigation into his “arrest, incarceration and death”. India has, in the past, rejected international criticism around Swamy's arrest.

  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson speaks during Prime Minister's Questions at the House of Commons in London, Britain.

    ‘I will not resign,’ says UK PM Boris Johnson | List of Tory MPs who quit govt

    Amid a string of resignations, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday told a parliamentary committee that he was not going to resign, and that an election is 'the last thing the country needs'. Senior ministers of Johnson's government were reportedly geared up to ask Johnson to quit as prime minister, British media said, over the latest developments. Were Johnson to go, the process to replace him may take a couple of months.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Thursday, July 07, 2022