In light of recent news cycles, we thought it timely to explore possible eventualities and provide artists with resources and tools to help them protect and diversify their online presence.
What’s going on?
Let’s not beat around the bush: while beloved and powerful, TikTok’s policies and data usage in tandem with the current political climate have led to a powder keg of an online social network. That’s to say nothing of some of the more bizarre trends that have proliferated on the platform like #DeviousLicks, and a trend of users explaining how to carjack Kias. So while we all love the app’s incredible algorithm, and every other tech company on earth seems to be adopting some aspect of their revolutionary UX, it’s time we have a frank discussion about the app’s future.
It’s not really up for debate – TikTok collects a lot more information about its users than it needs to operate as a social media service. While the company might argue that it needs as many signals as it can to power the AI that’s made its algorithm such a dominant force in the market, that sort of data collection has led to multiple government agencies banning the app’s use by their employees, and, for the past couple of years, a never-ending drumbeat of calls for its removal from the app store or its sale to a US-based company.
Unfortunately, this means there’s a chance your favorite app won’t survive 2023. But, before we get into the possible outcomes of the ongoing strife, let’s take a look at what you can do now to insure your future online presence.
If you can do it there, you can do it anywhere
The onset of TikTok, without a doubt, led to a renaissance of viral videos the likes of which we haven’t seen since Andy Samberg stuck his d**k in a box. The kind of virality that leads to overnight wealth, power, and, most importantly, fame. As such, countless creators have flocked to the platform and developed a following without consideration for the other major players. Sure, if TikTok went down tomorrow, Hank Green would be fine pattering on to his 1M+ Instagram followers, but a large percentage of TikTokers don’t have that luxury! Hank the wise old coot has developed an audience in both places! And you should too!
Say it with me: Cross Post! In the coming months, make sure to start a page on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more. Let your fans know you’re on the platforms, and start growing your following there. In the event of mass calamity, you’ll be happy you did. If you were able to build a following on TikTok, you can do it anywhere.
Buzzword Alert! Data!
That’s right folks, data! After you get your profiles set up on all the major players, you should start collecting as much data from your following as possible. That means emails, phone numbers, and IP Addresses (if ur a nerd). These data points will help you identify your core fanbase that will follow you through the apocalypse and out into the bastion of the new world where TikTok is just another victim in a string of failed social media outlets. While TikTok may be temporary, email is forever!
The Doomsday Clock
With all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the threat-level-midnight, DEFCON-1 situation.
Option 1: Fizzle fizzle dizzle dizzle. There’s a very high probability here that very little happens. TikTok influencers have taken on a new culture-defining role these days, with invites to the White House and the ability to sell out grocery shelves across the country with a post or two. They, along with ByteDance’s lobbying team, could convince the Federal Government to back off, maybe by making some small changes to the data they collect and keep for US users, and, just as they have for the past couple of years, avoid any real regulatory action. Bingo bango bongo, nothing happens from the consumer perspective.
Option 2: The company’s board agrees to a deal arranged by the Council On Foreign Investment in the US. That would be the situation in which the company gets sold to a US-based tech company at the behest of CFIUS, similarly to how the last administration made them host their data on Oracle’s servers. They’d likely carve out some territories from the deal and CCP would maintain some stake in ByteDance. It’s not clear how much the platform could shift if it were owned by Microsoft or Amazon or Oracle or some other technology company.
Option 3: Crash and burn, baby. Unfortunately, the other likely resolution in this situation is the US government banning TikTok. If that turns out to be the case, then you can expect a swift and brutal shift as the company loses hundreds of millions in advertising inventory as the platform stares into the abyss. While it might not be overnight, the ramifications of such a change would likely see the downfall of the platform within a few months. Who knows? In the wake of all that, maybe Triller will make a comeback.