What the hell is TikTok ?

by | Nov 25, 2021


You’re not a tween or teen, or even a 20-something adult and are wondering what in the hell is the TikTok app? Its actually a new type of studio and television, catering mainly to the 7 to 20 year old group.

First, I’ll detail what this incredible short video editing and distribution app allows, specifying the design choices that were made.

Then I’ll give you the inside scoop on the 24 hour party its like on there, and no place for anyone under 16 to be on without parental or educator guidance.

Tiktok challenges

The Features of the TikTok App:

  • Its a new kind of movie studio, a free short video creation tool . I mean short: most are under 1 minute and can be no longer than 3 minutes! 

  • It also allows anyone with more than 1 000 followers for free live streaming for an unlimited duration.

  • It enables collating video segments easily to create one TikTok. This eliminates the need for one perfect take or having to use an iMovie or other video editing tool.

  • It enables a green screen effect in the app, allowing creators to superimpose their video on images. Again, all in one simple phone app.

  • Popular music is provided without having to source it or obtain the rigts to use it.

  • Text overlay on the video is easy in the app.

  • The content is organized by hashtags, from #BodyArt to #SportsTikTok, to #Bestie, or #CutePets.

  • TikTok promotes “trending hashtags” as a way to encourage staying in the app.

  • On TikTok regular “challenges” to users emerge, which generally involve dangerous or ridiculous acts. The Devious Licks” challenge is a recent example in the fall of 2021, that sent students to destroy toilets and fire extinguishers in their schools. I’m not sure who starts these challenges.

  • It seeks advertising to make a profit. Therefore, challenges can also be “sponsored” ( paid for) by companies who seek exposure. For example, the #PCInsidersReport hashtag is promoted. It features influencers promoting President’s Choice grocery products in what are in fact influencer-created TikToks ads.

  • The tool enables easy reproduction of a creator’s video, if allowed by the creator, through a save on a viewer’s device. A design choice that revolutionizes basic ideas of copyright.

  • TikTok also natively provide the ability to “duet” and ” collage” another video. Dueting offers a split screen with the original video on one side and a user’s comment on the other.

  • As with Facebook, Instagram, and Snap, viewers can like and comment videos, as well as follow accounts. They can also follow hashtags.

  • Each account shows number of followers and the number of likes on their videos 

  • An account can be private or public.

  • Face filters ” à la SnapChat” are available but very little used.

The 24 Hour Casino Mood on TikTok  

  • Its really a new, highly addictive media: television reinvented for those under 30, with a new ecosystem of paid actors, set designers and producers. They’re called ” influencers” or ” creators” by TikTok, to avoid the negative image now associated with Instagram influencers. These TikTok creators are represented by influencer marketing agencies and social media marketing experts.

  • Influencers earn revenue in two main ways. First by creating “sponsored”(commissioned)  videos for companies. 


  • Secondly by accepting cute virtual gifts from their audience through the TikTok app. Viewers buy these cute gifts with hard cash and TikTok takes 50% commission on each gift from a viewer.


  • Videos are generally a first person narrative, individualistic and personal.

  • The tone is spontaneous, even if a lot of thought went into creating a TikTok, given they can be created from A to Z on a smartphone.

  • As a way to keep viewership high, the app tends to promote shocking, emotional and sexual content.

  • Its seen as an opportunity to become famous, to be in the limelight. In fact, only 10% of users post on TikTok, in the hope of becoming “influencers”.

  • There is no moderation before posting, even when using a hashtag suggested like #sexylady or #deviousdevils (connected with the devious licks challenge) . 

  • In a unique approach among social media apps, the algorithm largely shows the user videos she hasn’t subscribed to, based on her watch time and interaction.  No need to follow an account to see their videos. The flow is therefore both unpredictable and never ending. Does this remind you of casino gaming?

  • It promotes small business use of TikTok as an advertising tool with hashtags like #SmallBusinessCheck.

  • Inside the casino, it can be a tool that educators, under represented populations and causes can leverage, given its accessibility and popularity with youth. Read more about some Canadian online activists we featured in the research we conducted with Ontario Tech’s Janette Hughes on TikTok for activism in Canada here.

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