The TikTok app has been downloaded over 2 billion times worldwide (Sensor Tower, 29 April 2020, but this data excludes downloads in China). It is owned by an internet company called ByteDance in China. If this growth continues, TikTok will very, very quickly overtake Facebook’s number of user accounts, and it appeals a lot to teenagers and young people. Yet, not many people know much about TikTok or about the gender-based violence that happens on TikTok. KRYSS Network held an information-rich webinar on 16 May 2020 on the manifestations of violence on TikTok.
Moderated by Nisa Rawi from KRYSS, discussants included Firzana Redzuan from Monsters Among Us (MAU), and two of KRYSS’s team members who have been actively monitoring and documenting online gender-based violence, Regina Mathews and Serene Lim. Among others, discussants raised critical points on:
1) what makes the violence on TikTok different from other social media platforms
2) the real cost of these social media platforms that are supposedly “free” for the user
3) advantages for advertisers who link up with a social media platform like TikTok
4) what TikTok takes from users – user’s contact info, all the content that a user uploads, user’s location, user’s credit card details, the private messages a user sends to other TikTok users, a user’s contact list, info from 3rd party social media apps like Twitter, Instagram etc., and the algorithm helps collect behavioural info and how you use TikTok so content they think you will be interested in will be directed to the user.
5) whether children can be safe on TikTok and what needs to be considered and done
6) the appeal of the “democratisation” of content and the value it brings to social media platforms that are able to monopolise the market
7) the unseen influence of technology of the framing and presentation of content