TikTok is Taking Over

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“I like it, it’s a funny platform where you can express yourself with music.”

That’s sophomore Vasu Jain’s assessment of TikTok, a social media app that’s sweeping campus — and, amid some controversy, the world.

The app is a social media platform with an emphasis on sharing short videos, typically featuring people dancing and performing skits.

TikTok’s interface is famously addictive; many students report that they’ll unintentionally stay on the app for hours on end.

Junior Zach Gmerek is an avid TikTok user, and last school year one of his clips went viral, gaining 550,000 views and 35,000 likes.

“It’s basically a video of me taking a pair of jeans then throwing them on a chair. Then throwing a pair of Converse on a chair and then showing myself in front of a mirror wearing both the jeans and the Converse,” said Zach.

“And I did that because I was wearing them in front of my friends and my friends kept chirping me for them and telling me it was bad style, and so I took to the internet to see if it was bad style or not, and people agreed with me.”

Originally called musical.ly, in November, 2017, Chinese company ByteDance purchased the app and merged it with TikTok for $1 billion. Reportedly, ByteDance bought out their competitor to leverage their large U.S. user base.

Recently, in national news, several senators, including minority leader Chuck Schumer, have raised security concerns over TikTok. They fear that the platform could be manipulated to promote Chinese government ideology and influence U.S. elections.

This concern has been raised amidst increasing trade and political tensions between the U.S. and China. Notably, in the past year, U.S. corporations such as the NBA and Apple have all been accused of bowing to the interests of Chinese censors.

Despite the senate’s concern that TikTok could be used by China to manipulate U.S. teenagers, students at Williston remain blasé. Asked whether current events would change her view on the app, Sian Lewandowski ’21 responded, “no not at all. I see TikTok as just dumb videos.”

Zach agrees. “Yeah that doesn’t affect me at all,” he said.

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