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6 Secrets Behind the TikTok App

Alessio has reported security vulnerabilities to Google and Apple. He also has a past as a web developer and web server administrator.

The welcoming screen of TikTok app

The welcoming screen of TikTok app

The Secrets Behind TikTok

What is the first thing you think when talking about short videos? Maybe the answer is TikTok. The app essentially conquered the teenage demographic, becoming one of the most downloaded mobile entertainment services ever and the de facto destination for sharing short clips of dance, trends, and music.

This article will highlight some facts about the popular video-sharing service.

  1. Why Is TikTok so Addictive?
  2. The Truth Behind TikTok Easy Fame
  3. TikTok in China: How Does It Compare With the International App?
  4. You Can Predict New TikTok Features by Looking at the Chinese Version of the App
  5. The True Meaning of TikTok Logo: It's Not Just a Musical Note
  6. Why Does TikTok Ban People?

1. Why Is TikTok So Addictive?

When opening the TikTok app, the first thing one can see is the "For You" section, a selection of videos from other creators. After watching the first post, the most natural thing is to scroll and see another video, then proceed again and again. This section can be addictive, as clips are short, and people who find them interesting get easily stuck to the app and watch many others.

With this mechanism, TikTok can keep its users interacting with videos (generating revenues from advertisements) for long periods. This has made TikTok the first choice of many teenagers, as short videos are more immediate to watch than long videos.

Many people dream of easy popularity. The "For You" section is like a virtual stage where they can enjoy temporary fame if one of their videos gets selected by the algorithm.

Many people dream of easy popularity. The "For You" section is like a virtual stage where they can enjoy temporary fame if one of their videos gets selected by the algorithm.

2. The Truth Behind TikTok Easy Fame

TikTok exploited the secret dream of people to become famous by allowing its users to scroll among videos published by other creators and selected by an algorithm. Everyone can get noticed by an undefined number of users if one of their videos conquers the "For You" section.

Does this mean that TikTok gives people a chance to achieve fame quickly? TikTok can help people become famous, but if the creator doesn't have a real talent for creating videos that entertain users, fame often turns out to be mere temporary exposure.

The Illusion of Reaching Easy Fame

Have you ever noticed that many unknown people with hundreds of thousands of followers on TikTok have much less engagement on Instagram and other social media? It happens when someone achieves temporary fame only because an algorithm showed their videos to other users. It’s like getting many visits to a website because you are using traffic exchange services or—to provide an example still related to social networks—getting followers because you are paying for Facebook views.

There is a clear difference between real fame, something you achieve by leaving an impact on your followers, and illusory fame, which gets stuck within a single app and is only the result of the decision of an algorithm.

3. How Does TikTok in China Compare With the International App?

Essentially, the TikTok app everyone uses today was the revamp of the old Musical.ly service. ByteDance, the Chinese company which owns the service, managed to launch TikTok in 2007. Before this, in 2016, another service was launched just in China: Douyin. TikTok was launched in every country one year later the success of Douyin in China.

Despite Douyin and international TikTok being two completely different services (also hosted on separate servers), the technology is essentially the same. There are still many differences between the two platforms: Douyin has more features than the international version of TikTok, but it is also how the social network is used in China that makes it a completely different service.

How Is TikTok Used in China?

Chinese people use Douyin in various ways, including for business purposes. You can find dance, food recipes, educational, trivial, funny videos, short dramas, and much more. Instead, international TikTok seems much more tied to dancing videos. Plus, the same internet users associate TikTok with dancing and challenges. This fact has automatically created the myth of an app born only to entertain people, especially the youngest ones, despite TikTok being a social network, not just an app for fun.

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By being open-minded, one could start to use TikTok to promote their business, just like it happens in China. Still, many companies here do not give TikTok a chance. The real question is if also entrepreneurs in Western countries will start in the future to think like the Chinese ones, who already value TikTok as a fully functional social network, or if they will still look at it as if it is an "app for children". Time will give us the answer.

Chinese TikTok Features More Original Content

A final consideration about TikTok in China regards the nature of the videos. Although many international TikTok channels feature original content, many creators tend to copy trends launched by other ones. International TikTok is working more or less in this way: an influencer tries a new effect, challenge, or dance. After the video becomes viral, other users try to imitate it. Douyin has more space for original videos rather than copying other creators.

TikTok is commonly associated with music and dances, yet, it is also a fully-functional social network for business, for sharing educational videos, news, and other types of content.

TikTok is commonly associated with music and dances, yet, it is also a fully-functional social network for business, for sharing educational videos, news, and other types of content.

4. Predict New TikTok Features by Looking at the Chinese Version

Douyin is richer in features than TikTok, so one can try to guess potential updates in the international app by looking at what you can do within the Chinese one. These are essentially the two most relevant features you can find in Douyin and not yet in TikTok:

  • Ability to set up an online shop: Have you ever seen online stores launched on Facebook or Instagram? TikTok does not currently offer a similar feature, at least outside China. On Douyin, many creators shoot videos to promote products funnily and with music (like you would make an ordinary TikTok). When you open the channel pages of these creators, you can access an online shop and buy the advertised products. Plus, every promotional video has a link at the bottom from which you can directly access the shop and buy the item. This first feature lets you understand one thing: TikTok can be a business opportunity and not just an entertainment app.
  • Adding a location to the videos: This is a feature one could wonder why it is not yet available on the international TikTok app. You can add a location reference to a Facebook post or an Instagram picture, but not yet to a TikTok video. Yet, in China, you can add a location pin to your videos and access a section that allows you to see videos recorded nearby.
A Douyin section that shows videos posted nearby. The location feature is available in the Chinese version of TikTok but not in the international one at the time this article is written.

A Douyin section that shows videos posted nearby. The location feature is available in the Chinese version of TikTok but not in the international one at the time this article is written.

5. The Meaning of TikTok's Logo: It's Not Just a Musical Note

The common belief about the TikTok logo is that it represents merely a musical note. This general idea is not only popular because of the shape of the logo but also due to the fact music and dance videos are still the most common type of content posted on this platform.

Despite this, the TikTok logo is not only a musical note. The original Chinese app is called Douyin, so the TikTok logo represents the initial letter "D". It is a symbol that features two meanings, just like the Amazon logo, in which the orange arrow represents both a smile and a connection between the A and the Z of the Amazon name (to highlight the fact the e-commerce sells every kind of product).

The TikTok logo can be interpreted in two ways. You can see it as a musical note or as a “D”. The “D” is the initial letter for "Douyin", the name of the TikTok app in China.

The TikTok logo can be interpreted in two ways. You can see it as a musical note or as a “D”. The “D” is the initial letter for "Douyin", the name of the TikTok app in China.

6. Why Does TikTok Ban People?

TikTok takes several measures against people who violate the community rules. The table below illustrates some of the most common actions the platform may perform to ensure the following of the rules by its users.

ActionConsequencesSeverity

Deletion of one or more videos

The user who posted the videos receives a warning about their content taken out of the platform. The user can still enjoy the TikTok experience and post other videos. Other violations may result in further consequences. The videos removed cannot be seen anymore by other people.

Medium

Deletion of comments

One or more comments posted by the user on videos get deleted. The user receives a warning.

Medium

Muting videos

One or more videos get muted. It happens when adding unlicensed music to the video.

Low

Banning of the user

The user gets permanently banned from the platform. All their videos and profile get hidden from other people and are not viewable or discoverable anymore. The user can still watch other videos but cannot post, comment, message, follow, or get followed by other users. This punishment is the most severe: it applies to users who have committed recidivist violations or posted illegal stuff on the platform.

High

What to Do If TikTok Bans You

When you get just a comment or video deleted from the service, you should think about what was wrong with the removed content so that you don’t violate TikTok rules again. The biggest issue comes with the permanent suspension of your account. When this happens, the only solution available is to reach TikTok support and ask for the reasons and if there is a way to get reinstated.

If you have violated rules multiple times or have engaged in illegal behaviors, there are few probabilities of being allowed to use TikTok again. Permanent suspension of a TikTok account may also lead to losing posted videos and all the gained subscribers.

TikTok Secrets Poll

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2021 Alessio Ganci

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